The Swedish government has begun sending all 4.8m of the country’s households a public information leaflet telling the population, for the first time in more than half a century, what to do in the event of a war.
Om krisen eller kriget kommer (If crisis or war comes) explains how people can secure basic needs such as food, water and heat, what warning signals mean, where to find bomb shelters and how to contribute to Sweden’s “total defence”.
The 20-page pamphlet, illustrated with pictures of sirens, warplanes and families fleeing their homes, also prepares the population for dangers such as cyber and terror attacks and climate change, and includes a page on identifying fake news.
The publication comes as the debate on security – and the possibility of joining Nato – has intensified in Sweden in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and recent incursions into Swedish airspace and territorial waters by Russian planes and submarines.
The country has begun reversing military spending cuts and last year staged its biggest military exercises in nearly a quarter of a century, as well as voting to reintroduce conscription and unveiling joint plans with Denmark to counter Russian cyber-attacks and disinformation.
In one of Sweden’s most dramatic steps since the end of the Cold War, it has brought back the option of using reservists to boost its military force, making no attempt to hide the fact that the main motivation behind the move is Russia.
Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist went on TV this week to argue the move was necessary against the backdrop of Russia’s rearmament and its annexation of Crimea, as well as the Ukrainian conflict.
The decision also came just two months after Sweden got a rough wake-up call in the form of a lengthy but ultimately futile submarine hunt in the Stockholm archipelago.
Although no Swedish official ever identified the nationality of the elusive mini-sub, it was widely believed to be Russian.
In September, Sweden also lodged a protest with Moscow after the incursion of two Russian fighter planes into the Nordic country’s airspace.