Rose Gottemoeller, NATO’s deputy secretary-general, said during a visit to Stockholm that the Western alliance hoped to deepen its strong partnership with Sweden when it comes to security issues, NATO-EU cooperation, and combatting Russia’s hybrid warfare campaign.

During a meeting with Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist, she praised Sweden’s contributions to international security, including sending contingents on NATO missions in Afghanistan, Kosovo, and Iraq, as well as the Swedish military’s participation in NATO security exercises in the Baltic Sea.

During her time in Stockholm, Gottemoeller also visited the Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations, and the Swedish Armed Forces International Centre, where she met with the Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces, General Micael Bydén.

Sweden’s role

Unlike most of Western Europe, non-NATO members Sweden and Finland have maintained strong national defence forces since the end of the Cold War 30 years ago. As the rest of Europe consciously downsized their armed forces to small all-volunteer militaries that are poorly suited to the concept of territorial defence, Sweden and Finland continued to maintain and develop advanced territorial defence capabilities as well as enhanced bilateral cooperation agendas, while also bolstering their ties with NATO.

In the case of the former, Sweden’s armed forces are able to deploy significant maritime and air warfare forces in a crisis situation, both of which are critical to maintaining a strategic balance in the Baltic Sea in the face of a more aggressive military posture from Russia.