Swedish soldiers at Visby harbor on Gotland island
Photo: KARL MELANDER / EPA
In view of increased "Russian activities" in the Baltic Sea, Sweden has deployed armored vehicles to the streets of the island of Gotland and had soldiers patrol it.
Armored vehicles and dozens of soldiers were out and about in the small port town of Visby on Friday, the military said.
A few days earlier, three Russian Navy landing ships entered the Baltic Sea through the Great Belt Straits.
"The armed forces are taking the necessary measures to protect Sweden's integrity and demonstrate our ability to protect Sweden and Swedish interests," Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist told AFP.
»Russian activities in the Baltic Sea are increasing«
The increased patrols on Gotland are a sign that Sweden is taking the situation seriously and "will not be taken by surprise," Hultqvist told the TT news agency.
The military said Thursday evening that the units would be deployed "to reinforce operations in multiple locations" as "Russian activities in the Baltic Sea increase."
The head of operations of the Swedish armed forces, Michael Claesson, mainly reported on the increased presence of landing ships in Russian bases on the Baltic Sea, reported the Reuters news agency.
Kaliningrad, just 330 kilometers from Gotland, is the main base of Russia's Baltic Fleet.
However, Claesson denied that the action in Visby was a targeted Swedish "demonstration of power".
He told AFP the units were part of the force already stationed on the island.
It is a "natural way to adjust the military presence".
Sweden not in NATO but closely linked to it
Although Sweden is not a NATO member, it works closely with the alliance.
Russia recently warned the country of "serious consequences" if it joins the alliance.
Since Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in 2014, Stockholm has ramped up its defenses again.
In 2017, it reintroduced conscription.
In view of a massive Russian troop deployment on the border with Ukraine, the West is concerned that Russia is currently preparing to invade the neighboring country.
The Kremlin categorically rejects this.