At a moment Sweden alongside Finland is seeking to join NATO, a process which has been stalled due to Turkish objections, the Swedish government has announced it is planning to deliver “around” 10 Leopard 2 tanks and anti-air systems to Ukraine.
“We have decided to deliver Swedish Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine,” Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said in a press briefing upon the one-year anniversary of the war. Defense minister Pal Jonson in follow-up confirmed that “around ten” tanks would be sent, and they were identified as the “Leopard 2A5” models.
The government also aid it will be delivering the IRIS-T and HAWK anti-air missile systems as part of the package. The deliveries will be coordinated with Germany, after in late January both Washington and Berlin jointly agreed to allow Western tanks to be transferred to Ukraine as part of the war effort.
And yet, like other European countries which have been directly backing Kiev, Sweden is having its own struggles keeping up with domestic defense readiness and capability, as Breaking Defense details:
The newly published Swedish armed forces annual report 2022 has laid out a number of operational and industrial difficulties facing the Scandinavian nation, which include supply chain shortages and a pilot crisis causing Gripen fighter jet flight hours to fall by nearly 12 percent compared to 2021.
Across 2022, the war in Ukraine and supplier shortages led directly to struggles with maintenance of military equipment and “major delivery deviations” arising, such as delay to the new signals intelligence vessel HSwMS Artemis, according to the report.
Meanwhile, Russia is likely to continue pressuring Turkey to remain firm in its resolve to block Sweden’s NATO accession.
But Sweden has remained optimistic with Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström telling CNBC this week that “of course it is” really happening, when asked about joining NATO.
“We, after all, have 28 member states of the 30 who are already members of NATO who have already ratified the applications for Sweden and Finland. So yes, of course, this is just a matter of time,” Billström said. However, Turkey doesn’t seem any closer to giving approval, and Finland has even recently indicated it’s ready to join without Sweden.