Swedish questions over Russia summit invitation

Swedish questions over Russia summit invitation
Moscow's Red Square. Photo: AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin
Russia has reportedly invited experts from Nato countries, including non-Nato members Sweden and Finland, to a meeting in Moscow. But Sweden says it has received no such invitation.

According to reports in Russian media, its Defence Ministry wants Nato experts to come to Moscow this autumn in an apparent attempt to thaw frosty relations with the West.

“Nato military experts are invited to Moscow in September 2016 for consultations on the military-political situation in Europe,” several newspapers quoted Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov as saying.

It is understood Swedish representatives are also invited to discuss military activities in the Baltic area, including reports of near-miss incidents in international airspace in recent years.

But the Swedish Foreign Ministry, Defence Ministry and Armed Forces denied having received an invitation.

“But we are aware such a meeting is being planned from reports in Russian media,” Johan Murray, press spokesperson for the Swedish Foreign Ministry, told news agency TT.

Finland also said it had not been approached, but the Embassy of Estonia in Moscow confirmed that it had received an invitation. The country's Defence Ministry said it would carefully consider whether or not to attend the summit.

Swedish officials, meanwhile, declined to comment.

“We will have to consider an invitation if and when we receive it,” said Murray.

Sweden has been uneasy about more assertive Russian behaviour in the Baltic region in recent years, including Russian planes skirting or violating the national airspace of neighbouring countries. Earlier this year Swedish security service Säpo described Russia as Sweden's biggest security threat.