Why this story matters:
Sweden has released new official advice for the population on what to do should the nation enter a war or other emergency situation -- the first update to a pamphlet created during the Second World War and last updated 30 years ago.
The booklets, printed in 13 languages, will soon be sent out to every household in the country with the title "If crisis or war comes".
It includes advice on how to prepare for a potential emergency, for example, by stocking up on tinned food, containers for water, and blankets, as well as giving advice on identifying misinformation or fake news, the different levels of defence in Sweden, and the different emergency warning signals.
But why now? It's the first such awareness campaign since the days of the Cold War, and having been officially neutral during the Second World War, Sweden has not been at war in over two centuries. No specific threat is outlined in the booklet, which states that Sweden is "safer than many other countries," but relations with Russia have been tense since the latter annexed part of Ukraine in 2014, and Sweden has accused Russia of repeated violations of its airspace.
Details from the story:
- Sweden is quite well prepared for war, having 65,000 fallout shelters fit to host 7 million people in the event of emergency. It also tests its warning sirens four times a year in all populated areas.
- The booklet's original title "If war comes" has been updated to include other potential emergency situations, such as extreme weather or a wide-scale IT hack.
- In the event of war, the guidelines state that anyone aged 16 to 70 and living in Sweden (not just citizens) must be ready to contribute to the country's defense, including through possible conscription to the armed forces.
- Sweden has taken other steps to bolster its defence and security in recent years: reintroducing conscription, stationing troops on the island of Gotland, and upping military spending.
- The booklet is illustrated with images of people fleeing their homes and sheltering inside, and also includes a checklist of useful items to keep in the home in case of emergency.