Sweden's defence minister sees ongoing support necessary for Ukraine

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Swedish Prime Minister Andersson and Defence Minister Hultqvist attend news conference in Stockholm

BRATISLAVA (Reuters) - Sweden and other European countries must be prepared for ongoing support and weapons deliveries to Ukraine as it faces a long-running conflict with Russia, Sweden's Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist said on Friday.

Sweden is seeking NATO membership as the conflict in Ukraine changes Scandinavia's security landscape, and on Thursday it announced it was providing Ukraine with more economic aid and military equipment, including anti-ship missiles, rifles and anti-tank weapons.

The military aid was the third package Sweden has provided to Ukraine since Russia invaded in February, although Hultqvist declined to comment on further aid being planned.

"I see this conflict as a long-running conflict," he told reporters on the sidelines of the GLOBSEC 2022 Bratislava Forum, a foreign policy gathering.

"We must be sustainable in deliveries, so we can come back with more later on. Different countries must be complementary to each other."

Hultqvist said the conflict would change the environment for a long time, and that "we will have some sort of Iron Curtain, or if you would like to call it a new Cold War between a democratic Europe and Russia".

Amid that, Sweden and Finland last month applied to join NATO, but they have faced resistance from Turkey, which accuses them of being safe havens for Kurdish militants and wants them to scrap arms export bans.

Hultqvist declined to comment on any change in dialogue with Turkey, but he reiterated he hoped the membership process would go as fast as possible.

He said NATO integration would go smoothly once Sweden got the nod to join.

"I think we have a very good platform because we have interoperability with so many NATO countries and we have exercised a lot with so many NATO countries," he said.

"Integration is not a big problem."

(Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Alison Williams)