The two leaders are set to meet at the International Arctic Forum, a conference organized by Russia on five occasions since 2010, in St Petersburg. Government leaders, international organizations and researchers are all taking part in the two-day conference on the topic of sustainable growth in the Arctic region. Previous years' topics have included issues such as the environment and transport.
According to Löfven's press secretary, the Social Democrat leader will use the opportunity to address “issues that are important to Sweden”. There is not likely to be any shortage of such issues, with the two countries previously arguing about Russian fighter jets straying into Swedish airspace, Sweden's assertion that Russian spies are operating in the country, and increased tension in the Baltic region.
- 'I believe we have a lot to teach Russia in terms of free speech'
- Swedish-Russian relations 'the worst in many, many years'
- 'We need to make sure Sweden-Russia relationship is not based on lies'
Putin is also expected to meet Iceland's President Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson, Finland's President Sauli Niinistö and Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg during the conference.
Löfven and Putin have never sat down for a bilateral meeting before, and high-level meetings between the two countries have in general been few and far in between in recent years.
“The basic tone will not change; the relationship will remain pretty much as it is. Löfven will reaffirm the official position on Russia's actions in the Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea, the involvement in Syria, and possibly the incidents in the Baltic Sea. The Swedish government will use the meeting for this,” Russia expert Martin Kragh of the Swedish Institute of International Affairs told TT.