Scholz signals EU would help defend Sweden if Russia attacks – POLITICO

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Monday that Sweden could count on other European countries to come to its defense in the event of a Russian attack, even though the country is not a member of the NATO military alliance.

At a joint press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson in Berlin, Scholz stated that the EU had built a mutual assistance clause into its core agreement. He said this clause would be “taken very seriously” if there was an attack on Sweden.

“In an emergency, you can rely on it,” added Scholz.

Russia’s war in Ukraine has sparked fears in Sweden and Finland that they could be the next target of an attack from Moscow, especially since neither country is a member of NATO, which has a mutual defense pact at heart.

Earlier this month Andersson and Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin wrote a letter to the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, stressing that “EU leaders must be very unanimous and clear that the EU is also a security community for its Member States” and that the EU Mutual defense clause “an integral part of which is .”

Scholz’ statements indicated that Berlin agreed with this assessment. How much the EU could do to defend Sweden is questionable, however, given that – unlike NATO – it includes neither the US military superpower nor Britain, one of the continent’s few military heavyweights.

Germany’s own armed forces have been under-equipped for years, and Scholz recently announced a massive increase in defense spending to try to reverse years of neglect following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The EU clause states that if a member of the European Union is the victim of an “armed attack on its territory,” other states are “obliged to provide assistance and assistance by any means at their disposal”.

Speaking alongside Scholz on Monday, Andersson made it clear that such assistance should include military assistance if needed. She stressed that Sweden would offer such help if another EU member was attacked.

“Since we joined the EU, we’re not really neutral anymore because there’s this solidarity clause,” Andersson said. “So if an EU country were attacked or there was a crisis there, we would no longer be neutral: we would support that country. That could include sending in troops.”

On the question of possible NATO membership, Andersson said that Sweden “sees that the security situation has changed” and that political parties are now discussing the implications of this.

“Depending on the outcome of this debate, we will see what is the best way forward for Sweden,” she said.

Andersson’s Social Democratic Party in Sweden has so far been skeptical about joining NATO.

Charles Duxbury in Stockholm contributed reporting. Scholz signals EU would help defend Sweden if Russia attacks - POLITICO

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