Draft will encompass men and women born in 1999 or subsequently, though only tiny minority will be selected to serve

Sweden has voted to reintroduce military conscription by 1 July after struggling to fill army ranks on a voluntary basis, quoting increased Russian military activity in the Baltics as one of the reasons for the policy U-turn.

In 2010, Swedens centre-right government of the time abolished the draft after more than 100 years, arguing that targeted recruitment would increase the quality of a military that had shrunk by more than 90% since the end of the cold war.

But with unemployment rates having returned to pre-2 008 levels, the country has been struggling to meet its target of 4,000 new recruits per annum.

On Thursday, the Social Democrat-Green coalition government voted to adopt measures, recommended in a report last September, which mean that about 100,000 males and teens born between 1999 and 2000 will soon be asked to complete questionnaires for recruitment.

Of the targeted age group, 13,000 will be called to take part in an enrolment process of which about 4,000 a year will be selected for basic military training in 2018 and 2019.

The defence minister said the move was in response to a degenerating security environment in Europe. We are in a context where Russia has annexed Crimea, Peter Hultqvist, the council of ministers, told AFP. They are doing more exerts in our immediate vicinity.

We considered that our units could not be filled on a voluntary basis. A decision had to be taken to complement the( volunteer) system which is why we are reactivating conscription, he added.

A resurgent Russia and tensions over Ukraine have prompted politicians to consider bolstering military capacity while addressing the deficit of people willing to pursue a career as a professional soldier.

The lack of military preparedness has been exposed in recent years, such as when Russian warplanes carrying out a taunt bombing run on Sweden in 2013 capture air defences off guard.

Sweden is not a Nato member but has signed the organisations partnership for peace program, which was launched in 1994 to develop military cooperation between Nato and non-member countries.

Hultqvist told motivating would be an important factor when selecting recruits.

With its reintroduction of the draft, Sweden will for the first time join Norway to become only the second country in Europe where military service is compulsory for women and as well as men.

Its very important to emphasise that military service is for girls and guys, Hultqvist told. It is important for the military to have a gender equal profile, he added.

One teenager, Sofia Hultgren, who turns 17 this year and could be drafted in the coming years, told Reuters that many young Swedes viewed lengthy careers as military professionals as odd and old-fashioned. I think many see it as something lame, something your father did, when there are so much other fun things to do, told Hultgren, a student

However, she greeted the reintroduction of military service and said she would consider such train, even if she did not wishes to make it a career. I think this can give a feeling of convenience. Conscription strengthens our defense when we watch so much ugliness in the world, she said.

The wages for professional soldiers are well below “the member states national” median for the age group, little monetary incentive, while the pool of potential recruits, principally former conscripts from before 2010, has dwindled.

This buffer is now depleted and that leaves huge challenge in recruiting, told Johan sterberg, a staffing researcher at the Swedish Defence University.

Swedish military expenditure has fallen from 2.5% of GDP in 1991, around the time the Soviet Union collapsed, to 1.1% in 2015, data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute depicts.

Conscription in Europe

Numerous European countries phased out conscription after the end of the cold war.

However, in Scandinavia and eastern Europe, Belarus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Moldavia, Norway and Ukraine have retained the draft.

In southern Europe, Cyprus, Greece and Turkey still have military conscription.

In central Europe, only Austria and Switzerland necessitate the general public to do compulsory military service, for a period of 6 months and 262 days respectively.

Germany abolished military conscription in July 2011 but last year considered measures to bring back the draft during a national emergency.

Norway legally widened conscription to both sexualities in 2015, and last year about 33% of an intake of 10, 000 conscripts were female.

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