Sweden to re-establish military unit on Baltic Sea island


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HELSINKI (AP) — Sweden says it is establishing the nation's first new military regiment since World War II — a unit of 350 soldiers that will be based on the Baltic Sea island of Gotland.

The Swedish government said Wednesday that the permanent unit will be deployed during 2018 to the strategically important island's main town, Visby.

Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist says a "worsened security situation" in the Baltic region is behind the decision. Russia has increased military operations in the region since it annexed Crimea in 2014 and amid a conflict in Ukraine involving Russian-backed separatists.

Hultqvist says the regiment will re-establish Sweden's military presence on the island that is popular with tourists.

Gotland, population 58,000, first housed an infantry regiment in 1886. The garrison was dismantled in 2005.

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