Russia and Sweden agree joint military exercises

Russian troops will carry out joint military exercises with the Swedish army in the upcoming winter months, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said on Monday after meeting his Swedish counterpart Leni Bjorklund in Moscow.

“The operations will take place in tough winter conditions,” Ivanov said after the meeting.

The operation, called “Snezhinka” (“Snowflake”), will be the first time that Russian troops carry out joint exercises in Sweden, Ivanov continued.

Ivanov also said there would be direct contacts between Russian troops from the Kaliningrad region, lodged between Lithuania and Poland on the Baltic Sea, and ground forces from southern Sweden starting next year.

The ministers discussed cooperation on ecological issues in the Baltic sea, including making Russian military bases near St Petersburg more environmentally-friendly, and naval training exercises for rescuing submarines.

“Concrete measures will be taken — we are particularly interested in the frequency of leaks during the refinement of oil products in the vicinity of military installations,” Ivanov said.

Bjorklund stressed the importance of environmental cooperation between the two countries and said relations had stregthened in recent years.

“Our relations over the past few years have become stronger and deeper,” she said.

Relations between Russia and Sweden hit a low over mutual spying accusations in 2002 but have improved recently, with greater cooperation on environmental issues.