For several hundred years, Sweden and Russia had been regional adversaries – and it was only after the Napoleonic Wars came to an end more than two centuries ago that Stockholm largely adopted its policy of neutrality. Sweden didn’t take sides during Europe’s World Wars, and largely sat on the sidelines during the Cold War.
However, Stockholm also expected that if it were to be attacked, it would likely come from the east, with the Soviet Union looking to expand its influence to all of Scandinavia. With the collapse and dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Sweden’s fears of attack subsided – only to be renewed as Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown a desire to restore the former glory of Russia.
Along with Finland, which had also maintained a policy of neutrality throughout the Cold War, Sweden has been asked to join NATO this week. It is a sign of just how dramatically the Kremlin’s unprovoked war in Ukraine has upended the previous military landscape in Europe.
More Swedish Support
On Thursday, Sweden’s Defence Ministry announced that it will send additional anti-tank weapons and machine guns to Ukraine. The arms package, which also includes equipment for mine clearing, is valued at around 500 million Swedish crowns ($49 million).
According to Toni Eriksson, defense ministry spokesperson, the equipment was requested by the Ukrainian government, and will be delivered “as soon as possible.”
This is the latest military aid package that the Scandinavian country has provided to Kyiv. Last month, Stockholm announced an amendment to provide Ukraine with financial support and equipment in response to Russia’s unprovoked invasion. As part of that aid package, the Swedish government said it would provide the Ukrainian military with a variety of weapon systems.
“The Government proposes that Sweden donate additional defence material to Ukraine in the form of the RBS 17 anti-ship missile system, AG 90 anti-materiel sniper rifles and ammunition, and an additional 5,000 Swedish AT4 recoilless anti-tank weapons,” the Swedish defense ministry had announced via a statement.
In addition, Sweden contributed approximately 48 million euros (51.44 million USD) to the National Bank of Ukraine’s special fundraising account to help the country’s armed forces earlier this spring. The Swedish government had further proposed a EUR55 million ($58.95 million USD) additional financial contribution to the fund.
Stockholm’s Tank Busters
Among the weapons being sent will be an undisclosed number of AT4 anti-tank rocket launchers. The 84mm (3.31-inch) unguided, man-portable, single-shot, disposable, recoilless smoothbore anti-tank weapons have already been used to great success to destroy Russian tanks.
The AT4 was originally developed by Förenade Fabriksverken (FFV) and manufactured at their facility at Zakrisdal, Karlstad, Sweden. Now produced by Saab Bofors Dynamics, the AT4 is one of the most common light anti-tank weapons used by militaries around the world. It can be operated by a single soldier, and depending on the particular rocket model, the AT4 has a range of 200 to 600 meters, and it can penetrate armor up to 460mm.
Sweden has already supplied at least 10,000 AT4 anti-tank weapons, with more apparently on the way. That could be very bad news for Russian tanks.
In addition, an undisclosed number of AG 90 rifles – the Swedish designation of the American Barrett M82 .50 caliber (12.7mm) anti-material sniper rifle – have also been supplied, and some of those have reportedly been used by Ukrainian snipers to target Russia’s high ranking officers.
Now a Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes.