It is unusual for the Swedish Commander in Chief (ÖB) to speak clearly on political issues. Now it happened on Thursday and on US soil.
Michael Biden travels to the United States to meet with the US military leadership, among other things. In Washington, he spoke, among other things, with the United States’ highest-ranking officer, Chief of Staff Mark Milley.
In an interview with the news site Politico Michael Biden was asked if he wanted to see more US troops in Europe if the crisis between Russia and Ukraine worsened. The Commander-in-Chief of Sweden answered in the affirmative:
– If the situation worsens, I think it would be good to have a bigger footprint, said Michael Biden.
The issue is controversial. The United States accused Russia of amassing large forces near Ukraine, while Russia, for its part, accused Ukraine of escalating tensions.
If Russia launched a new military aggression against Ukraine, US President Joe Biden rejected the idea of sending warring US forces to Ukraine. On the other hand, the two NATO countries, Poland and Latvia, wanted the United States to increase its military presence with them as part of NATO’s collective defense.
In the vicinity of Sweden, there are currently American forces mainly in Germany and Poland, in Poland 5,500 men. Sweden is not a member of NATO, which is also emphasized in the article, but it works closely with the United States. When asked where the troops would be sent in this case, Biden answered:
– Maybe where are they today. That’s why you have bases in Europe. Not that you are not there, but there is more to enhance what you have. More people, more capabilities, ÖB said.
What is the size of the US forces? What ÖB would like to see, or what he had spoken with his hosts, did not answer.
Since 2016, Sweden and the United States have concluded agreements on in-depth military cooperation. US representatives indicated that Sweden would receive military support in the event of a crisis. Then-US Secretary of Defense James Mattis told DN in 2017: “If Sweden gets into trouble – we will.” But there are no official guarantees of Sweden’s assistance, as there is in the defensive NATO. Bydén also addresses this question:
If we show that we can do what we are supposed to do, the chance of receiving support from the United States will increase. With a larger (American) footprint in Europe, I think … the opportunity will be much greater, he told OB Politico and added:
– I don’t take it for granted. But the support from your country, the relationship, is one of the most important also for the security of Europe, said Michael Biden.
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