Sweden and UK strike deal to get more artillery to Ukraine

Sweden on Thursday announced a deal to sell its Archer mobile cannon system to the United Kingdom, allowing London to donate its older AS90 artillery system to Ukraine.

Sweden and UK strike deal to get more artillery to Ukraine
Archer ready for fire mission during the Swedish Army's Trident Juncture exercise in 2018. Photo: Swedish Armed Forces

The Swedish government said in a statement that the UK would purchase 14 Archer units.

Stockholm announced in January it would also be sending the Archer system directly to Ukraine without specifying an amount, and on Thursday it said it would send eight pieces.

The Swedish-developed Archer system is a fully-automated howitzer mounted on an all-terrain vehicle, which allows the gun to be remotely operated by the crew sitting in the armoured cab.

“Artillery such as the Archer, together with armoured vehicles and tanks, increases Ukraine’s defence capability and enables them to retake territory,” Swedish Defence Minister Pal Jonson said.

Britain said the 14 Archer systems would serve as “an interim replacement for the 32 AS90 artillery systems the UK gifted to the Armed Forces of Ukraine”.

London announced it was sending the AS90 to Ukraine in January. Sweden’s government said it had so far pledged 16.9 billion kronor ($1.6 billion) worth of military support for Ukraine.

In February, Sweden joined a slew of Western nations pledging heavier weapons for Ukraine, by promising “around 10” of its Leopard 2 A5 tanks, as well as the IRIS-T and HAWK anti-air missile systems.

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Sweden greenlights anti-Nato protest despite Turkey warning

Sunday’s Stockholm demonstration against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Sweden's planned Nato membership has been given the go-ahead despite Ankara's objections, Swedish police told AFP on Friday.

Sweden greenlights anti-Nato protest despite Turkey warning

“We are going to ensure that all those present on Sunday are able to exercise their rights protected by the constitution”, including freedom of expression, Stockholm police spokesman Ola Osterling said.

The demonstration, which is scheduled to take place on Sunday in the city centre, is titled “No to Nato, No Erdogan Laws in Sweden”.

It is organised by the “Alliance against Nato”, which includes the pro-Kurdish Rojava Committee among others.

Erdogan, who was re-elected for five more years on May 28th, has so far blocked Sweden’s Nato membership, accusing Stockholm of being a haven for Kurdish activists Turkey considers “terrorists”.

He has also demanded that Stockholm extradite several dozen activists, though those decisions can only be made by Sweden’s independent judiciary.

READ ALSO: Can Sweden’s new terror law be used to stop an anti-Nato demonstration?

Earlier this week, Ankara expressed its frustration over the planned demonstration, organised by groups close to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is outlawed by Turkey.

Even though the PKK is also considered a terrorist organisation in Sweden – as in the rest of the EU – its supporters are generally allowed to protest in public.

A spokesman for the Turkish presidency on Tuesday said it was “completely unacceptable that PKK terrorists continue to operate freely in Sweden” and urged Swedish authorities to block them from demonstrating on Sunday.

A new law beefing up Sweden’s anti-terror efforts came into effect on June 1st, criminalising “participation in a terrorist organisation”.

But the new law is not aimed at attacking freedom of speech, Sweden’s justice minister reiterated on Friday.

Asked about the possible presence of PKK activists at Sunday’s demonstration, the police spokesman said they were “also protected by the constitution.”

READ ALSO: Nato chief to travel to Ankara to push for Sweden’s Nato membership

“This demonstration will go very well, that’s how we see the situation,” Osterling said.

Turkey and Hungary are the only two Nato countries yet to ratify Sweden’s membership bid. Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg will visit Turkey during the weekend to attend Erdogan’s inauguration and try to lift the final obstacles.