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RUSSIA

Reinfeldt seeks answers on Russian dumping

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has asked for an explanation from the previous Social Democrat government over Russia's release of toxic waste into Swedish waters in the Baltic Sea.

Reinfeldt seeks answers on Russian dumping

Swedish public television SVT reported on Wednesday that between 1991 and 1994 Russia dumped chemical weapons and radioactive waste off the shores of Gotland, a Swedish island in the Baltic Sea.

The network also said the Social Democrat government that came into power in 1994 was informed of the dumping by military intelligence in the late 1990s, but failed to act on the information.

The current centre-right government “didn’t know” about the issue, Reinfeldt’s spokeswoman Roberta Alenius told AFP.

“This is new information for the (current) government. What we are saying is that questions should be directed at the previous governments,” she said.

According to SVT, the wasted dumped in Swedish waters came from the giant Karosta naval base in the Latvian port city of Liepaja.

Sven Olof Pettersson, an advisor to former foreign minister Anna Lindh, a Social Democrat, told SVT that Lindh knew about the dumping and called in vain for a public inquiry on the matter.

She was murdered by Mijailo Mijailovic, a mentally unstable man, in 2003.

Current foreign minister Carl Bildt, who was Sweden’s prime minister while the dumping was taking place, said Thursday he had not been informed it was happening.

Bildt headed a centre-right government from 1991 to 1994. The Social Democrats then took over until 2006.

A summit of heads of state of countries bordering the Baltic Sea was to take place in Helsinki Wednesday to try to solve the problems of one of the world’s most polluted seas.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is due to attend.

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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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