The government of Sweden has begun to send to the 4.8 million households in the country a public information brochure that tells 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 the crisis or war comes) is the title of this booklet, which explains how to ensure basic needs such as food and water, how to decipher the signs that indicate the risk of an attack, where to find anti-aircraft shelters and how to contribute to the “total defense” of Sweden.
The 20-page pamphlet, illustrated with images of sirens, fighter jets and families fleeing their homes, also prepares the population for hazards such as cyber and terrorist attacks and climate change, and includes a page to identify fake news . “Although Sweden is safer than many other countries, there are still threats to our security and independence,” the brochure says. “If you are prepared, you are contributing to improve the country’s ability to cope with great tension.”
Similar leaflets were first distributed in Sweden in 1943, at the height of World War II. The updates were issued regularly to the public until 1961, and then only to local and national government officials until 1991.
The publication comes just at the moment when the debate on security and the possibility of joining NATO has intensified in Sweden following the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the recent incursions into the airspace and territorial waters Swedish by Russian aircraft and submarines.
The country has begun to reverse the cuts in military spending and in 2017 it carried out its largest military exercises in almost a quarter of a century. In addition, Sweden has voted to reintroduce recruitment and has begun joint work with Denmark to counteract cyber attacks from, mainly, Russia.