"I really would like to try to practice moving the Patriot air defense system to Sweden and back across the sea to show strength," Hodges told Sweden's TV4 television network.
Hultqvist, who is on a visit to Finland, confirmed that Sweden does take part in military exercises with other countries, including the US, but did not provide additional comments on Hodges' remarks. For its part, Finland has not received a similar offer, the country's defense chief Jussi Niinistö said.
In 2013, Sweden's then Deputy Prime Minister Jan Björklund urged the government to purchase the US-made Patriots and deploy them to the island of Gotland. Not surprisingly, he named Russia as one of the reasons for Sweden to invest more in defense.
Hodges has previously claimed that Russia poses a threat to Europe, although Moscow has repeatedly said that such allegations have no merit. In fact, NATO has been doing precisely what the alliance officials often accuse Moscow of – building up the bloc's military muscle.
In February, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov told RIA Novosti that NATO was trying to convince the Swedish leadership that Russia could carry out a nuclear strike against the Scandinavian country. Although these allegations are baseless, the fear mongering could tilt the Swedish public opinion in favor of joining the alliance.