Sweden military prepares for Russian attack on Gotland

VISBY, Sweden — Sheep, churches and small-town amenities abound on Sweden’s largest island. A sense of geopolitical tension? Not so much.

But if Sweden’s political and military leaders are to be believed, Gotland today marks the first line of defense against a foe whose powerful Baltic fleet anchors just 200 miles across the sea.

“Russian aggression” has destabilized the region, Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist warned last month, adding with eye-popping candor: “An armed attack on Sweden cannot be ruled out.”

For skeptics of the rising concern felt across central Europe about the threat posed from Russia, Sweden is putting its money where its mouth is. Mr. Hultqvist made the comments as the center-left government announced the highest surge in Swedish defense spending since the 1950s: a $3 billion injection that will raise troop levels from 60,000 to 90,000 by 2025.

That follows the 2017 revivals of both the peacetime draft and the Gotland Regiment, a 350-member armored Army unit that was disbanded in 2004.