SHARE
COPY LINK

RUSSIA

Russian nuclear waste dumped off Sweden

The Russian military is suspected of having dumped chemical weapons and radioactive waste off the Swedish island of Gotland in the beginning of the 1990s, according to Sveriges Television (SVT).

The Swedish government was informed of the incident around ten years ago but no action was taken.

SVT’s Uppdrag Granskning programme reports the existence of three top secret files within the military security service MUST detailing the incidents.

The reports – from November and December 1999 and June 2000 – state that the Russian military is suspected of dumping sensitive material overboard on repeated occasions between 1991 and 1994.

The chemical weapons and radioactive material are reported to have come from the vast Karosta naval base in the Latvian city of Liepaja.

The Swedish defence forces informed the government about the suspected dumping at a security meeting with representatives for the Swedish security services (Säpo), the National Defence Radio Establishment (Försvarets radioanstalt – FRA), Swedish Customs Agency (Tullverket), the Swedish Agency for Non-Proliferation and Export Controls (ISP) and MUST.

The information did not lead to any action being taken.

Neither the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs nor the Prime Minister’s Office retains reports of the dumping.

According to an SVT source, Bertil Lundin, one of Sweden’s most prominent spies, passed the information on to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informally.

Sven Olof Pettersson, political advisor to then foreign minister Anna Lindh, was asked how much Lindh had been told about the incident.

“That the Russians had dropped ammunition and chemical weapons into the Baltic Sea in modern times,” he replied.

According to Sven Olof Pettersson, she became “very angry” and wanted the matter investigated. But she was told by the Ministry of Defence that without knowing the exact position it would be too expensive to search a large expanse of the Baltic Sea.

“For this to have been done in the 1990s is very different from if it had occurred in the 1940s or in the beginning of the 1950s. Then there were no international regulations; international environmental issues did not have at all the same focus as as they did in the 1960s and 70s,” Jonas Ebbesson, professor in environment law at Stockholm University, told SVT.

“The most important thing now is not to find someone to blame. The most important thing is to locate the dumped barrels and identify their contents,” Rolf K. Nilsson, Moderate MP for Gotland, said in a press release.

Nilsson argues that it is not just a Swedish matter, even if the barrels were dumped in the Swedish economic zone of the Baltic Sea.

“If the details of the dumping are correct then it is something that affects all of the Baltic Sea states,” Rolf K.Nilsson says, adding that now is a very good opportunity for Russia to demonstrate its good will.

Anatoly Kargapolov, press officer at the Russian embassy in Stockholm was unwilling to comment on the reports until the matter had been thoroughly investigated in Moscow.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

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.

SHOW COMMENTS