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FARMING

Russia bans imports of Swedish meat

Nine Swedish meat processing facilities have had their licences to export to Russia revoked after failing Russian meat inspections carried out last spring.

Russian meat inspectors carried out reviews of several Swedish meat processing plants in May and June of this year.

The inspections have resulted in Russia withdrawing the export licence for one facility permanently, while eight other facilities have been slapped with a temporary ban on shipping their products to Russia.

“The Russian requirements are different from the Swedish and from the EU requirements,” Anna Brådenmark of the Sweden’s National Food Administration (Livsmedelsverket) told the TT news agency.

She said that all nine facilities have been approved by Swedish food inspection authorities.

“Russia views certain things differently,” she said.

Within the EU, audits are carried out to ensure that meat processors have a functioning system for checking food products, while Russia wants tests to be taken for every shipment.

There are also differences between the EU and Russia when it comes to how old animals should be when they are tested for BSE, commonly known as mad cow disease.

“That issue is currently under discussion at the EU level,” said Brådenmark.

According to her, Russia has carried out inspections in several EU member states which has led to several facilities losing their export licences.

When the shortcomings uncovered by the Russian meat inspectors have been remedied at the eight Swedish facilities which have had their licences temporarily withdrawn, they will once again be allowed to ship meat to Russia.

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MILITARY

Sweden steps up Baltic defence in ‘signal’ to Russia

Sweden's defence minister has said his country is carrying out military exercises in the Baltic Sea to 'send a signal' to countries including Russia.

Sweden steps up Baltic defence in 'signal' to Russia
Swedish troops on the Baltic Sea island of Gotland. Photo: Joel Thungren/Försvarsmakten/TT

The so-called “high readiness action” means the Swedish army, navy and air force are currently more visible in the southeastern and southern Baltic Sea and on the island of Gotland.

No details have been disclosed about the number of troops involved in the action.

Sweden is “sending a signal both to our Western partners and to the Russian side that we are prepared to defend Sweden's sovereignty,” Hultqvist told news agency TT.


Ground troops on Gotland. Photo: Bezhav Mahmoud/Försvarsmakten/TT

“There is currently extensive military activity in the Baltic Sea, conducted by Russian as well as Western players, on a scale the likes of which have not been seen since the Cold War,” the Swedish Armed Forces' Commander of Joint Operations, Jan Thörnqvist, said in a statement.

“The exercise activities are more complex and have arisen more rapidly than before. In addition, the coronavirus pandemic has caused global anxiety and uncertainty. Over all, the situation is more unstable and more difficult to predict,” Thörnqvist said.


A Visby-class corvette and two Jas Gripen jets in the air. Photo: Antonia Sehlstedt/Försvarsmakten/TT

Hultqvist said Sweden was also monitoring developments in Belarus “very closely”.

Non-Nato member Sweden, which has not been to war in two centuries and which slashed military spending at the end of the Cold War, reopened a garrison on Gotland in January 2018 amid concerns about Russian intentions in Europe and the Baltic.

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