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Sweden reintroduces military draft for first time in 7 years

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COPENHAGEN — Sweden’s left-leaning government on Thursday reintroduced a military draft for both men and women because of what Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist called a deteriorating security environment in Europe and around Sweden.

Sweden abolished compulsory military service for men in 2010 because there were enough volunteers to meet the region’s military needs.

The government said “the all-volunteer recruitment hasn’t provided the Armed Forces with enough trained personnel. The re-activating of conscription is needed for military readiness.”

In September, non-NATO-member Sweden stationed permanent troops on the Baltic Sea island of Gotland, which Hultqvist described as sending a signal after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and its “increasing pressure” on the neighbouring Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

There have been reports of airspace violations by Russia’s military aircraft in the region and a military buildup in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, which sits across the Baltic Sea from Sweden.

Under the plan approved Thursday, at least 4,000 18-year-olds could be called up each year, starting Jan. 1.

The Swedish government which often has described itself as “feminist,” said “modern conscription is gender neutral and will include both women and men. “

Sweden’s armed forces lack 1,000 active troops as well as 7 000 reservists, according to the coalition government of Social Democrats and Greens, adding enrolment should be made possible from July 1, and basic military training with compulsory service from Jan. 1

About 20,000 people work for the Swedish armed forces, of whom 84 per cent are men and 16 per cent women, according to the forces’ website.

Over the months, 13,000 young Swedes will be called upon and 4,000 will be enrolled. As in the current system, Swedes will still be able to volunteer for military service.

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