Russia’s foreign minister warns Sweden off Nato

Russia's foreign minister warns Sweden off Nato
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Photo: Ivan Sekretarev/TT
Russia will "take the necessary military-technical action" at its northernmost borders if Sweden joins Nato, Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the Dagens Nyheter daily.

Lavrov said Russia would feel compelled to take action if Nato’s military infrastructure stretched to Sweden. 

“It’s every country’s right to decide what form its security should take, but one must understand that if military infrastructure approaches Russia's borders, we would of course have to take the necessary military-technical action. There’s nothing personal in it; it’s just business,” Lavrov told Dagens Nyheter (DN)

When asked what measures Russia was likely to put in place, he said:

“That’s not my job. It’s up to the military, the defence ministry, and the Russian general staff. When they see what potential there is at the other side of the border – right at our border or a little further from our border, then they know what capacity exists there and what can be expected if Nato suddenly decides to stop us in a ‘hot’ way.” 

Lavrov also blamed Sweden for a cooling off in relations between the countries after the revolution in Kiev that dislodged Ukraine’s pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, and Russia’s subsequent annexation of Crimea.

He spoke of the solid trade relations and political dialogue that had prevailed before the Ukraine crisis, adding that Russia had always viewed Sweden as a good neighbour. 

“But all of that was stopped by our Swedish colleagues; it didn’t happen on our initiative,” Lavrov told DN. 

“From Stockholm we got the message that contacts would be frozen and that Sweden was adhering to the EU’s sanctions. This was a result of Brussels for some reason taking offence at our reaction to the armed coup in Kiev,” he said, repeating Moscow's line on the events of February 2014 that left dozens of Ukrainians dead.

Relations between Sweden and Russia have been tense in recent years. 

Russia carried out a practice nuclear attack against Sweden in 2013, according to a Nato report. 

Sweden’s security service Säpo has described Russia as the country’s biggest security threat.

And in October 2014, a foreign submarine – suspected of being Russian, although this was never confirmed – was spotted in Swedish waters just outside Stockholm. A number of Russian planes have also been spotted in, or close to, Swedish airspace over the past two years.