In “Operation Snowflake” Swedish and Russian troops will be working together in exercises on Swedish soil.
According to Robdrt Hårdh, secretary general of the Swedish Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, Russian defence minister Sergej Ivanov has referred to the exercises as “training for fighting terrorism” – a Russian euphemism for the war in Chechnya. The Swedish military says it is a “peacekeeping operation”.
The Russian soldiers taking part come from the 138th Motorized Rifle Brigade, which according to Härdh is guilty of serious human rights abuses in Chechnya.
Writing in Svenska Dagbladet, Hårdh writes that by holding joint exercises with the brigade, the Swedish government is effectively giving legitimacy to abuses and war crimes.
In the article he asks foreigh minister Laila Freivalds whether she thinks that the brigade’s participation in Operation Snowflake is compatible with the government’s aim that all aspects of foreign policy should protect human rights.