By Leila Nezirevic
LONDON (AA) - The Swedish government is taking steps to reintroduce civil conscription for emergency services in the latest move to boost the nation’s defense since the Ukraine war began, the country’s prime minister announced Monday.
“We’re going back to a situation where we have a formalized civil duty,” Ulf Kristersson told a press conference alongside Defense Minister Pal Jonson and Minister for Civil Defense Carl-Oskar Bohlin, adding that the civil service preparations will start as early as this week.
According to Bohlin, the Nordic country will initially prioritize those considered to be competent who will then be deployed with civilian duties within municipal rescue services.
The Civil Contingencies Agency estimates that this includes around 3,000 people.
“We do not know exactly how many may be covered by the duty. We see that the municipal rescue service today is not designed for the demands placed on high alert and ultimately an armed attack,” said Bohlin.
Experience from Ukraine is clear when it comes to protecting the civilian population and emergency services that are put under “very heavy pressure,” he added.
The agency has until March 1 to prepare the activation of the civil duty, and according to Bohlin, those placed with civil duty will be allowed to undergo additional training for emergency services during the war.
Asked if in the long-term Sweden will be back under Cold War conditions, when civil duty included many professional groups, including preschool staff and people who handled the electricity network, Bohlin said: “I think we’re heading in that direction, there is broader work going on with the issue of civil duty within the government office, which we will return to in the near future.”