The Swedish government will distribute leaflets to the country’s 4.7 million households later this year explaining what to do if war breaks out with Russia, the Civil Contingencies Agency in Stockholm said Thursday.
The announcement comes in the middle of a heated parliamentary election campaign, and amid a renewed fear of hostilities with its eastern neighbor.
The leaflets will also explain how Swedes should react in a terror attack, after a natural disaster or following a cyberattack against critical infrastructure.
The move was prompted in part by the “security situation” in the Baltic Sea, officials told CNN.
Russia has built up a significant military presence on its western border in recent months.
The leaflets will suggest preparing long-abandoned Cold War bunkers and stockpiling food, water, and blankets.
“There is a significantly more complex threat with climate change, terror attacks, pandemics and manipulation of information,” Christina Andersson, of the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, told the Aftonbladet newspaper. “People need to learn and know about how to deal with it.”
The leaflet drop is part of a wider effort by Stockholm to revamp its defenses in light of increased Kremlin aggression:
- Last November the Swedish government committed $1 billion to Raytheon’s Patriot missile defense system, which will replace the U.S.-made Hawk missile system currently in use. The system will be operational by 2025.
- Sweden launched its largest war games in 20 years last September, boasting more than 20,000 troops. At the same time, Russia conducted its own massive war games with an official count of 13,000 troops. NATO subsequently said the number of troops was much higher.
- Citing increased Russian aggression, the government in March reintroduced the draft, with 4,000 young people selected for military service each year starting in 2018.
- Sweden reintroduced a permanent military presence on the strategically important island of Gotland in 2016. Positioned in the Baltic Sea, the island would likely be a key target for Moscow should a conflict break out between Russia and NATO.
- Sweden is not a NATO member, but the Nordic country has in recent years drawn closer to the alliance to counter rising tensions with Russia.