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Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Friday

Find out what's going on in Sweden today with The Local's short roundup of the news in less than five minutes.

Ukrainian refugees in Malmö. Liudmila Mokhovyk (left) was visiting Sweden when Ukraine was invaded. Her son Oleg has travelled from Poland, while Viktoriia Hromiak and Olga Mokhovyk (right) have come to Sweden from Trenopil in Western Ukraine.
Ukrainian refugees in Malmö. Liudmila Mokhovyk (left) was visiting Sweden when Ukraine was invaded. Her son Oleg has travelled from Poland, while Viktoriia Hromiak and Olga Mokhovyk (right) have come to Sweden from Trenopil in Western Ukraine. Photo: Andreas Hillergren/TT

Sweden’s military intelligence service ‘rules out nothing, not even nuclear attack’

The head of Sweden’s military intelligence service, Must, has said that she and her agency view the current security situation as extremely uncertain, with no action by Russia completely ruled out, including a nuclear attack. 

Asked whether Russia’s threat to use its nuclear arsenal should be taken seriously, Lena Hallin told the TT newswire she was not ruling anything out. 

“We are not ruling anything out. The nuclear weapons arsenal is an important part of their [Russia’s] deterrence capability.” 

“We must be ready for several different things. The war in Ukraine has not gone how we believe Putin predicted and we have now seen how it is being escalated,” she said. “What the final goal is, probably Putin only knows, but it probably concerns more than just Ukraine.” 

She said there was an increased risk for “heavy-handed pressure tactics” against Sweden, which might be economic, political, or even military. 

Swedish home guard gets two years of applications in nine days 

In the nine days since Russia attacked Ukraine, Sweden’s home guard has had as many applicants as it normally gets in two years, the Swedish Armed Forces have told the country’s TT newswire. 

Between February 24th and March 3rd, 9,842 people have applied to join up. In recent years, the Home Guard has received on average around 5,000 applications a year. 

Swedish battleship to take part in British-led Baltic military exercise

Sweden’s defence minister, Peter Hultqvist, will be in Copenhagen on Friday to watch the Swedish corvette HMS Karlstad take part in a military exercise in the Baltic Sea by the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force, which brings together Sweden and Denmark, with Finland, the three Baltic states, and The Netherlands. 

Members to boycott Arctic Council over Ukraine invasion 

Seven out of the eight member nations of the Arctic Council, of which Russia holds the rotating chairmanship, said
on Thursday they would not attend meetings following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Canada, Norway and the US said in a joint statement that their “representatives will not travel to Russia for meetings of the Arctic Council,” citing Moscow’s “flagrant violation” of the principles of “sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

“Additionally, our states are temporarily pausing participation in all meetings of the Council and its subsidiary bodies”.
They all condemned Russia’s “unprovoked invasion of Ukraine”. The council was set up as an intergovernmental body to deal with issues in the Arctic region.

Sweden summons Russian envoy over airspace violation

Sweden said on Thursday it would summon Russian representatives to its foreign ministry over a Wednesday violation of its airspace by four Russian fighter jets.

“There are established procedures for these type of issues and those include summoning a representative of the violating nation to the foreign ministry,” Klara Hook, press communicator at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, told AFP.

“These procedures will be applied in this case as well,” Hook added, declining to comment on whether the Russian ambassador had already been summoned or not.

While Russian incursions of the Nordic nation’s airspace have happened in the past, Wednesday’s event was treated with increased scrutiny given Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ikea joins H&M and Spotify in suspending operations in Russia

Swedish furniture giant Ikea announced on Thursday it would suspend its activities in Russia and Belarus, affecting nearly 15,000 employees, 17 stores and three production sites, in response to the war in Ukraine.

The suspension mainly concerns Russia, where the Swedish group has been present since 2000 and is one of the largest Western employers.

Operations in Belarus would also be halted, though the country hosts only a few suppliers and has no shops, according to Ikea.

Read our story here

EU countries agree to lift visa rules for Ukrainians fleeing war

EU countries have agreed to grant Ukrainians fleeing the war immediate leave to stay in the Bloc without a visa for one year, which can be extended if necessary.

A special meeting of European interior ministers on Thursday agreed to apply a little-used measure known as the Temporary Protection Directive to any Ukrainians who want to come to an EU country.

Sweden has received 1,011 Ukrainian refugees over last week.

Sweden’s Migration Agency has reported that 1,011 Ukrainian citizens have applied for asylum in Sweden over the last seven days, with 359 applying on a single day on Wednesday.

According to the UN’s refugee organisation UNHCR, four million Ukrainian refugees are expected to leave the country in the coming days.

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For members


Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday

New moves towards Nato, Ukrainians to Lund, and a fall in online sales. Find out what's going on in Sweden, with The Local's short roundup.

Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday

Left-wing Aftonbladet newspaper backs Nato membership

The Aftonbladet newspaper, which describes itself as reflecting an “independent Social Democrat” viewpoint, has switched sides on Nato, with the newspaper’s chief political editor Anders Lindberg arguing in an editorial that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine makes membership of the security organisation necessary. 

“Vladimir Putin’s war demonstrates that we need to join Nato to guarantee Sweden’s security,” Lindberg wrote in an article on Wednesday.  

“I have never previously supported Swedish membership of Nato,” he explained. “On the contrary, I have argued that non-alignment, a strong national defence, and a pragmatic foreign and security policy has worked extremely well. It has kept us out of war and promoted our national interests.”  

But he said that Russia’s invasion had created a “security deficit in Northern Europe”. 

“When I read the arguments for continued military non-alignment, I cannot see any answers to the question of how we should compensate for this deficit,” he wrote. 

Swedish Vocab: en underksott – a deficit 

Finnish parliament to hold historic Nato debate 

The Finnish parliament is to hold a historic five-hour debate in parliament on Wednesday afternoon, which if it backs Nato membership, will make Nato membership for Sweden much more likely. 

The key will be the position taken by the Social Democrats, the part led by Prime Minister Sanna Marin, and also of the Centre Party, who say they will back Nato membership if the government as a whole does. 

The debate starts at 1.15pm Swedish time. 

Swedish Vocab: en besked – an indication/statement

‘No evidence riots result of foreign influence operation’

The new Swedish Psychological Defence Agency said on Wednesday that there was no evidence the riots over the weekend were encouraged by overseas powers. 

“At present we do not see any ongoing inappropriate influence operations against Sweden,” said Mikael Östlund, the communications chief at the Swedish Psychological Defence Agency. 

Police on Monday said that ahead of the riots over the Easter weekend, they had seen encouragement coming from overseas social media accounts. 

“We know that they is information about encouragement to commit violence against police officers, which has been orchestrated overseas,” said Jonas Hysing, the police officer leading the response to the riots, on Monday. ¨

Swedish vocab: påverkanskampanj – influence operation 

Lund wants to recruit more Ukrainian students 

Lund University wants to make it easier for students from Ukraine to study in Sweden, and has signed an exchange agreement with the Taras Sjevtjenko University in Kiev, it announced in a press release. There were ten Ukrainians studying in lund before Russia’s invasion, and the university aims for that number to increase and for those who are studying to be offered grants. 

Swedish vocab: att locka – to attract 

Swedish PM: ‘Police right to allow Paludan to burn Koran’
Sweden’s Prime Minister, Magdalena Andersson, has said that the police decision to allow Danish far-Right activist Rasmus Paludan to hold
a Koran-burning demonstration was correct under Sweden’s strong freedom of expression laws, and that, equally, those opposed have a right to mount a counter demonstration. 
“You have the right to demonstrate against it – but peacefully. What we’ve seen is something totally different, and it seems, as police are saying, that there have also been criminal gangs behind this.” 
“It’s important,” she added, “that those responsible are arrested and prosecuted.” 
She said the pictures of the riots had been “terrible”. “I have of course had a lot of thoughts about the police officers who were wounded.”
Swedish vocab: yttrandefriheten – freedom of expression
E-commerce falls from pandemic peak in Sweden

Revenues from e-commerce sites in Sweden fell 17 percent in March compared to the same month last year, according to the Swedish Trade Federation, with all the signs being that sales will decline this year compared to 2021.  

“The growth in e-commerce is flattening out, but it’s also a fact that the average purchase level in March 2022 was still 70 percent higher than just before the pandemic. The relatively high revenues from e-commerce are shadowed by the record year we saw in 2021,” said Johan Davidson, the trade body’s chief economist.