Breaking with decades of tradition, Sweden has stepped into the Ukraine-Russia war, announcing that it would break its policy of not sending arms to countries in active conflict.
“My conclusion is now that our security is best served by us supporting Ukraine’s ability to defend itself against Russia,” Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson told reporters.
The Prime Minister said that the country will be sending Ukraine 5,000 model “Pansarskott 86” anti-tank weapons, which is a single-use anti-tank launcher known internationally as Bofors AT-4.
Andersson also noted that the decision to send arms, along with 135,000 field rations, 5,000 helmets and 5,000 pieces of body armor, is the first time that Sweden has sent weapons to a country in armed conflict since 1939, when the Soviet Union attacked Finland.
Reporting from Swedish media indicates that Ukraine had specifically requested the more advanced Robot-57 anti-tank system.
When asked about the decision, Sweden’s Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist stated: “A weapons system that can strike against tanks and armoured vehicles has been requested and this is such a system.”
“In addition this is a system that is easy to operate, doesn’t require training and can be handled by a single soldier,” he added.
When the Cold War ended, Sweden officially abandoned its stance of neutrality. Despite making this decision, it has remained officially “non-aligned” since then, and has stayed out of all military alliances. This decision to send equipment appears to be the first instance of Sweden breaking with tradition to actively support a country in a military conflict in decades, which has left the rest of the world surprised.
Sweden is not a member of NATO, but has been a partner to the alliance since the mid-1990s.