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Factbox-Russia suggests Sweden or Austria as military model for Ukraine -Breaking

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© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: A photograph of Ukraine’s national flag in front a school, which was set ablaze by shelling during Russia’s incursion in Ukraine, Kharkiv Ukraine, February 28th 2022. REUTERS/Vitaliy Gnidyi/File Photo

STOCKHOLM / Reuters – Ukraine may become a state that is not aligned with any other country, Russia claimed Wednesday. It was seeking a deal to resolve three weeks worth of fighting and sought a settlement with Kyiv.

These are facts about Sweden’s military status. They are both NATO members but are not part of NATO. Ukraine stated previously that it would like to join both of these organisations. This stance was instrumental in Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

SWEDEN

Sweden was neutral during World War Two, and was part of the nonaligned movement in the Cold War. However, it secretly cooperated in providing sensitive information about the Soviet Union to the United States.

– When it joined the EU, 1995, it gave up formal neutrality and adopted a policy that was military non-alignment.

It regularly takes part in military exercises and has increased its NATO links in recent years. Magdalena Andersson, the Prime Minister of Sweden, recently rejected membership requests. She said it would be destabilizing for Europe’s security.

Sweden was a participant in NATO and U.N. mission, including in Mali, Afghanistan, and Iraq. But, this has been in support roles like training and communication.

– The country cooperates with several countries in defense matters including France, the United States and Finland (which is not a NATO member).

Sweden belongs to the Joint Expeditionary Force. This British-led force is quick to respond and focuses on the High North, North Atlantic, and Baltic Sea regions.

Sweden is not a ally of any other country.

Sweden stated that after Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, it would increase military spending by 2% of its gross domestic product (GDP). This level is what NATO members must meet. However, most don’t.

AUSTRIA

– After the end of World War Two, Austria was occupied by four Allied troops. This made Austria’s neutrality, which is modeled on Switzerland, a condition to its independence.

Austria was effectively made a buffer zone for the west and east, and its surrounding countries are all NATO members with the exception of Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

Austria’s military is small and poorly funded. The country’s defense spending in 2020 was 0.6% of its GDP, which is second only to Malta in EU. This figure, Eurostat statistics shows, is well below the EU average 1.3%. Karl Nehammer, Austrian Chancellor, suggested raising it to at most 1%.

Austria is NATO’s partner and participates in NATO-mandated operations, including the KFOR peacekeeping force in Kosovo.

Austria is not open to foreign power using or passing through its territory without a U.N. Security Council mandate.

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