‘“We have given them all that we can in terms of great materiel and good knowledge. We wish them all the luck in the world and that they succeed in freeing their country”,…’ began a release published by the Swedish Armed Forces on 21 September, quoting Mats Ludvig, Operations Commander of the Swedish Army Staff.
The release followed the delivery from Sweden to Ukraine of 10 Leopard 2 tanks (known as Stridsvagn 122 in Sweden), which amounted to nearly a tenth of Sweden’s previous stock of the platform.
The chilling statement appears to signal the end of support for Ukraine by Sweden, a move that mirrors Poland’s decision on the same day to stop transferring weapons to the war-torn country.
Later in the release from the Swedish Armed Forces, Army Chief Jonny Lindfors avowed the prudence of the donation of Leopard 2 main battle tanks, but added that Sweden needs “to procure new tanks as soon as possible, to increase the amount even more. Otherwise, the army will not be able to achieve the expansion objectives of Defence Resolution 2020.”
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In a newly outlined appropriation plan, Sweden intends to reach a series of spending targets ahead of schedule, with a possible 71% increase in military-specific appropriations for the development procurement, replenishment and phasing out of defence material in the next year.
The need to prepare national defences is also consistent with Poland. In a television interview with Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, where he stated that Poland “no longer transferring any weapons to Ukraine because we are now arming ourselves with the most modern weapons.”
A Polish government spokesman went on to clarify that Poland will only make donations of weapons that it has already agreed to deliver, according to PBS.
Sweden first announced it would donate ten of the prized armoured Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine came on the anniversary of the full-scale invasion, 24 February 2023. The Swedish Armed Forces trained Ukrainian personnel in Sweden during an intense two week period during the summer.
Beyond this, Sweden has donated surface-to-air missile subsystems and parts, 8 155mm Archer self-propelled artillery systems, more than 50 CV9040 infantry fighting vehicles, mine clearance equipment, anti-ship missiles, man-portable air defence systems and small arms and anti-tank weaponry, with some of these donations still waiting to be delivered.
Additional reporting by Richard Thomas.