Sweden reinforces Gotland, pledges $7 billion for Ukraine as Russia fears grow

According to Sweden’s top military commander Micael Bydén, troop deployments and military assets on Gotland will be increased to better protect the island from any moves by Moscow to seize control of the territory.

Citing mounting concerns over potential Russian aggression, Sweden announced steps on Wednesday to bolster the defences of its strategic Baltic Sea island Gotland while also unveiling plans for substantial new military aid to Ukraine.

According to Sweden’s top military commander Micael Bydén, troop deployments and military assets on Gotland will be increased to better protect the island from any moves by Moscow to seize control of the territory.

Located around 60 miles off the southeastern coast of Sweden, the 1,200 square mile island has become a focal point of Swedish defence planning and force posture adjustments since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Previously demilitarized in the latter stages of the Cold War, Sweden has redeployed troops, air defences and other military hardware to Gotland over the past year as tensions with Moscow have dramatically escalated.

In addition to the Gotland reinforcements, Sweden’s governing coalition also unveiled a massive $7 billion package Wednesday to provide military aid to Ukraine over the next three years as it continues battling Russian forces.

The multi-year commitment makes Sweden one of the largest suppliers of arms and equipment to Ukraine’s war effort outside of the United States and a handful of other NATO allies.

The combined moves signal a major shift towards a more muscular defence posture in traditionally non-aligned Sweden, largely propelled by concerns over Russian revanchism in the region.

With its strategic location in the Baltic, Sweden fears Gotland could become a prime target should Moscow attempt to expand its control from the territory already seized in Ukraine.

Swedish officials have been blunt that Russia’s invasion of its neighbour has highlighted the need to drastically boost both national defences and support for Kyiv through armaments transfers.

While Sweden has moved to join NATO, the process remains ongoing. In the interim, Stockholm is opting for deterrence through increased military readiness and backing of Ukraine’s resistance against Russian aggression.