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Report August 17, 2021

The UK, France, and the United States in Sweden’s vicinity: Strategic interests and military activities

By Anna Wieslander, Viktor Lundquist

As a response to the deteriorated security situation, following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and war in eastern Ukraine, the UK, France, and the United States have substantially increased their presence and engagement in Sweden’s vicinity. This has been done as part of NATO and its enhanced forward presence, with the United States serving as framework nation in Poland and the UK in Estonia, and through activities such as participation in the Baltic Air Policing Mission (BAP), the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), and exercises and training. It also has been executed through so-called minilateral initiatives such as the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) and the European Intervention Initiative (EI2), of which the JEF has a clear Northern European and operational component, providing both deterrence value as well as a potential defensive value in early conflict stages, while the EI2 remains to be developed as a contributor to regional security.

This study analyzes the strategic interests and military activities of the United Kingdom, France, and the United States in Sweden’s vicinity—mainly the Baltic Sea region (the Nordics, the Baltics, and Poland) and the Arctic, including the role of the UK-led JEF, the French-led EI2, and the bilateral defense cooperation between the United States and Sweden, as well as the trilateral defense cooperation between the United States, Sweden, and Finland. It identifies and analyzes current trends and future challenges that might affect Swedish security, its military international collaboration, and ultimately, its long-term defense planning, with the task of protecting the sovereignty of Sweden: its borders, population, and institutions. Scenarios are used in order to account for the interest and activities of the UK, France, and the United States in the Baltic Sea region and the Arctic in a long-term perspective. Possible responses to Russia’s and/or China’s power projections are central to this part of the study.

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Related Experts: Anna Wieslander