Cold-War style: Sweden re-activates an underground naval base

After 15 years of being closed, Muskö Naval Base 70 kilometers south of Stockholm has again been activated by the Swedish Armed Forces, the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet reported. On Monday, a new inauguration ceremony was held with the Navy’s band, exactly 50 years after the original inauguration of the facility in 1969.

Defense Minister Peter Hulkvist has attributed the Navy’s return to base on security issues. “It’s probably the largest underground base in the world. Here we have a very important and unique resource that we can develop in various ways, ” he explained in his speech. Initially, a force of 100 people will be deployed on the renewed base, which was decommissioned in 2004.

“The goal is to increase safety in the mountain. The mountain is an impressive facility and it seems wise to take advantage of it, ”said Navy commander Gen Nkwist. “This is important, it’s something big for us,” he said and emphasized the importance of decentralizing the bases, stressing that opportunities are strengthened and vulnerability reduced.

The plan was tabled by parliament about a year ago. In addition to the Navy moving to Musk, the army will be stationed at Enkeping, while the Air Force will be at Uppsala. Other experts, however, were more specific about why the underground fortress had to be rebuilt.

“The move is based on calculations that the Russians could use powerful weapons that demand the level of protection that only Muskö can offer,” said Swedish National Security Intelligence Service senior analyst Niklas Granholm, as reported by the Guardian.

Swedish media, meanwhile, often refers to the alleged “Russian threat”. The defense minister himself and other officials have repeatedly cited Russia as the reason for Sweden’s enhanced defense preparations.

While Muskö ceased to play a central role in Swedish defense decades ago, the navy never left the region as a whole. Last year, British and Belgian tourists tried to infiltrate the base, but came under fire before they were finally apprehended.

The return of the Swedish Navy to the Cold War-era fortress comes as the country continues to militarize, with budget increases and the return of the Armed Forces to Gotland.

At the same time, thousands of leaflets explaining how one can survive a nuclear attack have been distributed to Swedish households for the first time in decades. Since the end of the Cold War, Sweden has dramatically reduced its military spending, from about 3% of GDP in the 1980s to just 1% in 2010.

Currently, the Swedish Armed Forces are assessing the Defense Committee’s proposal for the period 2021 – 2025. Internally, there is a dispute between the Army, the Navy and the Air Force about how resources should be allocated.