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Sweden military HQ raises readiness level over Ukraine

Aug. 30, 2014 - 03:45AM   |  
By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE   |   Comments
SWEDEN-SAAB-GRIPEN-AIRCRAFTS
Two JAS 39 Gripen, lightweight single-engine multirole fighters fly on March 23, 2013, above the town of Falun, Sweden. (JONATHAN NACKSTRAND / AFP/Getty Images)
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STOCKHOLM — The Swedish military said Saturday it had increased intelligence gathering and called in extra staff to its headquarters over the crisis in Ukraine, as the prime minister compared Russia's current behavior with the Cold War.

"We have raised the level of readiness at headquarters in particular areas, for example in intelligence gathering," armed forces spokesman Niklas Englund told AFP.

Sweden's military has also decided to move two Gripen fighter jets to the island of Gotland east of the Swedish mainland where they will be in a better position to react quickly to the situation in the Baltic.

Englund said that beyond these measures, there had been no decision to raise the overall alert level for the Swedish armed forces.

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said late Friday Sweden did not face any imminent threat, but he said Russia's behavior had become more assertive.

"It's a behavior which we saw during the Cold War and which is now returning," he told Swedish news agency TT.

Fears of a wider confrontation in Ukraine spiraled after NATO said Russia sent at least 1,000 troops across its border helping the ailing pro-Russian insurgency in a counter-offensive that has already seen key towns wrestled from Kiev's control.

"We follow the situation very closely," the Swedish chief of defensce staff Jan Salestrand said in a statement posted on the armed forces' website.

Englund said raising the level of readiness at headquarters "happens now and then, but not so often."

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