Sweden to Remilitarise Baltic Island in Response to Russian Activity

World | March 13, 2015, Friday // 17:52
Bulgaria: Sweden to Remilitarise Baltic Island in Response to Russian Activity

Sweden plans to station troops on the strategic Baltic island of Gotland, as Russia has increased its military activity in the region.

Permanent military presence has been absent from Gotland, which is Sweden's largest island, for a period of ten years, the Financial Times reports.

Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist announced that he would recommend the stationing of a company of about 150 troops on Gotland.

Sweden will also intensify military drills around the island with the participation of the country's army, navy and air force.

Hultqvist justified these decision with the island's strategic location and the concern expressed by the three Baltic states of Russia's rising activity and influence in the region.

Gotland lies about half-way between Sweden and Latvia in the middle of the Baltic Sea.

The remilitarisation of Gotland is part of the Swedish government's pledge to increase its defence budget by spending an extra USD 717 M in the next five years.

Russian airplanes have infringed Swedish airspace several times, while foreign submarines, likely to be Russian, have been reportedly spotted in the archipelago outside Stockholm.

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Tags: Sweden, Gotland, Russia, Baltic Sea, Latvia, troops, remilitarisation, military drills, submarines, Peter Hultqvis
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