Thoughts on European streets are explained by Russia

Thoughts on European streets are explained by Russia

Armored vehicles were pictured rolling through the streets of a Swedish city when the military quoted “tensions?” between Russia and Ukraine

Sweden has moved to increase security on Gotland’s largest Baltic Sea island in order to? Adapt? its security strategy to the? tense situation? on the Russian-Ukrainian border, located about 1,700 km southeast.

Residents of the sleepy town of Visby on Swedish Gotland woke up to the sound of heavy military equipment roaring through the streets on Saturday. The Swedish Army’s Combat Vehicle 90 infantry combat vehicles had arrived overnight to secure the quiet coastal town and its port.

A tactical rapid reaction unit from the Armed Forces has been deployed to the island, the military said in a statement on Saturday. Part of the unit was flown in on Friday night by the American heavy transport aircraft C-17 as part of Sweden’s “international cooperation” program while the rest arrived by ferry from the mainland.

The Swedish military sa the effort “should be seen” as part of Sweden’s adapting its strategy “to the tense situation between Russia and Ukraine”, which has been making headlines for several months. The United States and its NATO allies have claimed that Russian troops will invade neighboring Ukraine as early as January or February. Moscow has dismissed the statements as “fake news”.

The operation “does not have to mean an increased threat level”, says the Swedish Armed Forces’ Chief of Operations Michael Claesson to the media. In a speech to the AP, he also quoted alleged increased Russian activity in the Baltic Sea that “deviates from the normal picture.”

While Claesson’s comments apparently toned down an immediate “Russian threat”, articles published in the Swedish media on Saturday said that the military is strengthening its position as it prepares to defend “Sweden’s most vulnerable place”.

The German tabloid Bild went even further and specifically linked the surprising Swedish deployment to Russia’s recently decided to move three of its heavy landing craft from the Barents Sea in the Arctic Ocean to the Baltic Sea. Referring to an anonymous official from Stockholm, the newspaper said that the Swedish army has been on standby if Russian President Vladimir Putin decides to use the ships to conquer Gotland.

“Should Putin plan anything against the Baltic countries, he must first take Gotland. We see the Russian troop movements and we must take this scenario seriously,” the official claimed. According to this source, Moscow may be tempted to deploy its S-400 air defense systems to the island to interrupt the Baltic states from NATO air support. The newspaper has not provided any evidence that a plan to invade and occupy part of Sweden has ever been considered by Russia.

Moscow has not yet responded to the latest allegations. It has repeatedly denied that it has any plans to invade Ukraine, where a civil war broke out in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk in 2014 in the wake of a Western-backed coup in Kiev. Two unknown breakaway republics bordering Russia emerged during the events and still control parts of the historic Donbass coal mining region. The current fragile peace in the region depends on the Minsk Agreements, which Moscow says the Kiev government is not following. In recent weeks, Ukraine and the United States have insisted that Russia has gathered troops near the Ukrainian border, claiming that not only Donbass, but also the capital Kiev, could see Russian tanks roll in. No evidence of the Russian government having an invasion plan has ever been published.

Both Moscow and Washington have meanwhile accused each other of preparing a false flag operation in eastern Ukraine, which would then provoke a full-scale conflict.

The situation around Ukraine has led to a week of high-level talks between Russian, US, NATO and OSCE officials. Moscow made a series of proposals to improve collective security in Europe, which included guarantees that NATO would not expand further east. These specific demands have been rejected by the United States and its allies.

On Saturday, former NATO general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in an interview with Finnish Yle that “a Russian attack would provoke a discussion in Finland and Sweden about future NATO membership”, and claimed that in that case the two nations apply for membership, the block would “decide on it overnight”.



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