STOCKHOLM, March 2 (Reuters) - Sweden’s centre-left government will decide on Thursday to reintroduce military conscription next year, amid lingering difficulties filling the ranks on a voluntary basis and a more uncertain security situation, public broadcaster SR reported.
The Nordic country mothballed compulsory military service in 2010, but military activity in the Baltic region has increased since, in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, prompting Sweden to step up military preparedness.
The decision to reintroduce the draft, following recommendations by an official investigation, will cover both men and women born in 1999 or later, though only a minority will be selected to serve.
“We have had trouble staffing the military units on a voluntary basis and that needs to be addressed somehow,” Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist told public service radio SR.
“Therefore it is necessary to reintroduce conscription.”
The decision would entail the call-up of 4,000 men and women for military training in 2018 and 2019, SR reported.
Sweden, which is not a NATO member, is upgrading its military, with a sharp hike in spending, and has reassigned troops to the Baltic Sea island of Gotland, besides urging local governments to step up contingency planning for a future war. (Reporting by Niklas Pollard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)