Factbox-Russia offers Sweden or Austria as military model for Ukraine
This content was published on March 16, 2022 – 18:25
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Ukraine could become a non-aligned or neutral state like Sweden or Austria, Russia said on Wednesday, as it seeks a compromise with kyiv to end a three-week war.
Here are some facts about the military status of Sweden and Austria, which are both members of the European Union but not of the NATO military alliance. Ukraine has previously said it wants to join both organisations, a stance that contributed to Russia’s decision to invade its former Soviet neighbor to the south on February 24.
– Sweden was neutral during World War II and was part of the Non-Aligned Movement during the Cold War, although it secretly cooperated with the United States to provide sensitive information about the Soviet Union.
– It renounced its formal neutrality when it joined the EU in 1995 and replaced it with a policy of military non-alignment.
– It has strengthened its ties with NATO in recent years and regularly participates in military exercises. Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson recently rejected calls for membership, saying it would destabilize Europe’s security.
– Sweden has participated in NATO and UN missions, for example in Mali, Afghanistan and Iraq, but generally in roles such as training and communications support.
– It cooperates closely with a number of countries on defense issues, including the United States, France and neighboring Finland, which is also not a NATO member.
– Sweden is part of the Joint Expeditionary Force, a British-led rapid reaction force that focuses on the Far North, the North Atlantic and the Baltic Sea region.
– None of its allies is formally committed to fight alongside Sweden if it were invaded.
– After Russia invaded Ukraine, Sweden said it planned to increase military spending to 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) as soon as possible, the level that NATO members are required to achieve, although most currently do not.
– Moscow made Austria’s neutrality, modeled on that of Switzerland, a condition of its independence when the country’s occupation by the four Allied forces after World War II ended in 1955.
– Austria has effectively become a buffer zone between the Eastern bloc and the West, but the countries surrounding it are now all NATO member states except for Switzerland and tiny Liechtenstein .
– Austria has a relatively small and underfunded military. Its defense spending was just 0.6% of GDP in 2020, the second lowest level in the EU after Malta, according to Eurostat statistics, well below the EU average of 1.3 %. Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer has suggested increasing it to at least 1%.
– Austria is a NATO partner and participates in UN-mandated operations under NATO command, such as the KFOR peacekeeping force in Kosovo.
– Austria generally does not allow foreign powers to use or pass through its territory unless they are acting under the mandate of the UN Security Council.
(Reporting by François Murphy in Vienna and Simon Johnson in Stockholm; Editing by Gareth Jones)