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SWEDEN AND UKRAINE

Sweden expels three Russian diplomats in protest at alleged war crimes

Sweden is expelling three Russian diplomats from the country in a punitive action after alleged war crimes were discovered in Ukrainian cities.

Sweden's foreign minister announces the expulsion of three Russian diplomats at a press conference.
Sweden's foreign minister announces the expulsion of three Russian diplomats at a press conference. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg / TT /

Sweden’s foreign minister, Ann Linde, said at a press conference that it was “clear that war crimes had been committed” in Bucha and other cities in Ukraine, and said that the pictures of dead bodies that had been circulated in recent days were “deeply shocking”. 

She said the three diplomats had been chosen because “it is absolutely clear that they are involved in illegal espionage activities in Sweden”. As a result, she said they were not working in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. 

As well as expelling the diplomats, Sweden has also summoned Russia’s ambassador to the foreign ministry.  

The decision makes Sweden the tenth country in the European Union to expel Russian diplomats in protest at alleged war crimes committed by Russian troops in towns and cities they have occupied in Ukraine. 

Denmark announced on Tuesday that it would expel 15 diplomats involved in espionage. Germany and France have declared 40 and 35 diplomats “persona non grata”. The Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Estonia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, and Poland have all expelled Russian diplomats. 

When Linde was asked why Sweden had not expelled more diplomats, when Sweden’s Säpo security police believe that a much higher number of Russian embassy staff are engaged in spying, she said that Sweden wanted to minimise retaliatory measures. 

“It’s not always easy to expel diplomats, and there are always consequences for our own embassy and our own general consulate,” she said.

“We always have to balance our own interests against our judgement that it is necessary to make some expulsions. But it does not rule out expelling more in future, who also do not follow the Vienna Convention.” 

At the press conference, Linde said that Sweden was working closely with its EU partners on a fifth package of sanctions against Russia, which will be be announced shortly. 

“It’s a sanctions package which goes further in [limiting] Russian exports of fossil fuels,” she said. “We hope to agree to stop all coal and oil from Russia. It’s very much necessary now.”

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SWEDEN AND UKRAINE

Sweden sends anti-ship and anti-tank missiles to Ukraine

Sweden on Thursday announced additional aid of one billion kronor ($102 million, €95 million) to Ukraine, consisting of both financial aid and military equipment including anti-ship missiles and anti-tank launchers.

Sweden sends anti-ship and anti-tank missiles to Ukraine

“We are now seeing a new phase in the Russian invasion, where (Russia) is gathering strength in eastern and southeastern Ukraine and the Ukrainian side has requested help in several areas,” Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist told reporters at a joint press conference with Finance Minister Mikael Damberg.

Damberg said the Scandinavian country would contribute 578 million kronor to the Ukrainian central bank’s fund for its armed forces, 60 million kronor to Nato’s fund to help Ukraine’s armed forces, and military equipment worth 262 million kronor.

In addition, Sweden will contribute 100 million kronor for civilian efforts through the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency.

According to a press release, the military materiel consists of Sweden’s anti-ship missile system Robot 17, which is a modified version of the US Hellfire missile system, as well as 5,000 anti-tank launchers and AG 90 assault rifles and ammunition.

“This is qualified equipment in line with what Ukraine has requested”, Hultqvist said.

In late February, Sweden broke its doctrine of not sending weapons to countries in active conflict for the first time since 1939, announcing 400 million kronor worth of military materiel and the donation of 500 million kronor to the Ukrainian central bank’s fund for its armed forces.

Sweden, along with neighbouring Finland, in May overturned decades of military non-alignment by submitting historic joint applications to join Nato, as support for membership soared in both countries after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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