Worrying About War: Questions and answers for children

Right now, pictures of Swedish soldiers appear often on TV and in newspapers. There is talk of Russia, Ukraine and Gotland. People post on TikTok and other social media about what they think the soldiers are doing. A lot of children are worried by all of this. But the Swedish Armed Forces, which oversees the military defence of Sweden, is not worried that there will be a war in Sweden.

What's happening in Ukraine right now?

Russia and Ukraine are neighbours and have long been in conflict. Partly about a territory called Crimea, which was taken over by Russia in 2014 against Ukraine's will. Partly because Ukraine wants to join NATO. NATO is an alliance of several countries that have pledged to defend each other in the event of war. Russia is not in NATO, and they don't want Ukraine to join either. Russia has attacked Ukraine with artillery and planes.

Is there war in Sweden?

No, there is no war in Sweden. Nor do the Swedish Armed Forces believe that one will occur now. Swedish politicians don't think so either. Sweden is not a member of NATO. We are helping Ukraine with emergency relief and defensive equipment. But we are not sending any soldiers and are not involved in the war. Most of the aid we are sending to Ukraine is meant to help people who are affected by the war or who are forced to flee.

Why were so many Swedish soldiers sent to Gotland?

Although the Swedish Armed Forces do not believe that there will be a war in Sweden now, they wanted to show Russia that they are keeping an eye on what is happening in Ukraine. They also wanted to show that Sweden has soldiers, ships and fighter planes to defend itself, should the need arise. Gotland is a part of Sweden that is quite close to Russia, so the Swedish Armed Forces think it is good that armed Swedish soldiers are visible there. They did this to reduce the risk that someone will do something they are not allowed to do against Sweden.

Should I be afraid?

No, you do not need to be afraid, but it is not always possible to control our feelings. It is quite natural to feel scared when frightening things happen. If something you hear, see or read frightens you, you can always talk to a grown-up about it. It is important that you do not keep such worries to yourself. 

We need each other, especially when we are scared and worried. That is why it is so great that many people are making special efforts right now. That we come together and support each other. It's good if you can talk to someone close to you about what you're thinking and feeling.

The situation in Ukraine, where the war is going on, is of course very serious. Here in Sweden, we're still far from going to war and there are many adults who are working to keep track of what is going on, so that it will continue to be safe in Sweden.

Is everything I see on social media about the war true?

No, not everything on social media is true. Sometimes someone exaggerates, posts something to get attention, or to make you believe or feel something.
The most important thing is that there is no war in Sweden. Nor do the Swedish Armed Forces believe that one will occur right now.

When will the heightened security situation be over?

Nobody knows. In any case, the Swedish Armed Forces want Swedish soldiers and their weapons and vehicles to remain visible for a while longer. They hope it will keep other countries from going to war and make us who live in Sweden feel safer.

Do I need to do anything special now?

The best thing you can do right now is to continue living your life as usual.

A good thing to always keep in mind is having a supply of water, food and other items at home! This is useful in case of, for example, a prolonged power outage or other crisis. Even when war occurs in countries far from Sweden, the shelves in the shops here can be empty, if Sweden normally buys food or other items from those countries.

All of us, adults and children, are important in society. Even during calm and peaceful periods, there are those who need the help of others. If you are in a scout troop, a football club or any other association, talk to your leaders about ways to help others. Many associations have already done so during the pandemic.