Russia's ambassador to Sweden, Viktor Tatarinsev, on Wednesday criticized Prime Minister Stefan Löfven's comments in an interview with CNN at the annual political festival Almedalen Week.
Afterwards, he repeated to Swedish newspaper Expressen: “The Swedish Prime Minister time and time again points out Russia as the biggest threat, without any evidence whatsoever. We are tired of that. It doesn't matter if you are prime minister, pope or Jesus Christ, who cannot make groundless accusations. And you have to understand that it will not happen without a response.”
“I hope the next government reevaluates its policy towards Russia. The relations between Russia (and Sweden) are so bad they can not get worse,” he said about the increasingly frosty debate.
“It is so bad it is impossible to change. It is the worst relationship in many, many years.”
Sweden and Russia have had a tense relationship for several years. Successive Swedish governments backed Ukrainian attempts to move closer to the European Union, to Moscow's annoyance. In 2013, Russian fighter jets carried out practice bomb attacks over Sweden.
In September last year, Sweden carried out its biggest military drill in 20 years, with overseas troops joining Swedes in the exercise which was named Aurora and came following an increase in military activity from Russia in the Baltic region.
In November, Russia expelled two diplomats working at Sweden's Moscow embassy.
Swedish officials and the country's intelligence service Säpo have also repeatedly warned “foreign powers” could try to meddle in Sweden's upcoming election in September, singling out Russia.