Daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN), Stockholm, on April 28, 2016, reported on Russian pressure on Sweden. If Sweden joins Nato Russia will act. How it will act must be decided by the military establishment.
The Baltic countries have not shown any gratitude to Russia for releasing them without violence. The Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said this in an exclusive interview with the Swedish daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter. Excerpts below:
It is one thing to have neutral neighbours, another to have neighbours who are members of the North Atlantic alliance. Russia will therefore take military measures if Sweden decides to join Nato. This warning was issued by Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov in an interview with DN.
What counter-measures may be suitable is a matter for Russia’s military forces to decide: “It is a matter for our military forces, the defence ministry and the general staff.”
We are in a skyscraper on Smolensk square in Moscow, where the Russian foreign ministry is housed. Lavrov’s cabinet is on floor 8 in the 27- story building, which was completed in 1953 about the same time as the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin died. Like the rest of the seven gigantic high-rise blocks around Moscow it was built in response to the USA’s skyscrapers. Those who toiled on the buildings were largely German prisoners of war and slave labour from the Gulag.
High up on the façade the hammer and sickle, the Soviet state emblem, is still displayed, almost 25 years after the Soviet Union disappeared. Not the Russian double-headed eagle.
When the skyscraper was completed almost 65 years ago it became the home of all the Soviet and post-Soviet foreign ministers…
In reply to DN’s question about submarines in Swedish waters Mr Lavrov says he has not seen any confirmation that “our submarines” were there.
— Considering the military situation in Europe, on the basis of the relationship Russia-Nato and Sweden’s neutral status, we are not interested in pressing for increased military confrontation. Confidence and openness are essential and it is important that we understand one another’s military doctrines. There was a dialogue of this nature between Russia and Nato. And we have always warned against the continual eastward expansion of Nato. It is the right of every country to determine the forms for its security but you must understand that if military infrastructure draws close to Russian borders we will naturally take the necessary technical-military measures. There is nothing personal in that, it is just pure business.
Mr Lavrov underscores that he sees Nato “as a reality” and that Moscow is prepared for a dialogue with the alliance. He regrets that joint staff manoeuvres, on land, in the air and at sea “to fight terrorism and extremism more effectively” have all come to an end. In his view exclusively for ideological reasons.
Is Moscow concerned about the closer relationship between Sweden and Nato? What counter-measures will Russia take if Sweden decides to join Nato?
— Like every state, Sweden is entitled to independently decide the forms for how it wants to arrange its security, starting from its national interests. If Sweden decides to join Nato, we don’t believe for that matter the Swedes will attack us. But since the Swedish military infrastructure in that situation will be subordinate to Nato’s high command, naturally we will take necessary technical-military measures at our northern borders, …
What concrete measures?
— That is not my job, it is a matter for our military forces, the defence ministry and the Russian general staff. When they see what kind of potential there is on the other side of the border ‒ directly at our border or a bit further from the border…
Moscow has previously expressed concern about the position of the Russian minority in the Baltic countries. Does Russia understand that the Balts fear their big eastern neighbour?
— [The Baltic States]started to say the Soviet Union had “abused, used, exploited”. And some are issuing bills for USD 185 million…
The three Baltic countries Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania had become independent in 1918 but were occupied and incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1940. Under the rule of Moscow thousands of people were captured and executed and … deported to Siberia.
A few years after independence had been reinstated in 1991, the Baltic states wanted to join Nato. Mr Lavrov says that when he asked his Nato colleagues why they wanted to receive the Baltic countries, they replied that they still had all kinds of phobias from Soviet times and even from World War 1.
The interview is over, Mr Lavrov stands up and hurries off.
On the way out I catch sight of a plaque that illustrates the split view of the country’s history: “In memory of foreign ministry staff who fell victim to the repression 1935-1953”. It refers to the fact that several Soviet diplomats ‒ and millions of other alleged enemies of the state ‒ were executed during Stalin’s paranoid reign of terror.
In the sparsely lit corridor we walk past a row of portraits of Russia’s foreign ministers through the centuries.
On one wall hang the foreign ministers of the Russian empire up to the collapse of the tsarist empire in 1917.
In time it will be Sergey Lavrov’s turn to join the row of portraits.
Comment: The interview contains the usual Russian views on the West and its policies. Mr. Lavrov avoids to mention the fact that there is an ongoing Russian aggression against Ukraine since a pro-Western government was installed in Kyiv.
Sweden and Scandinavia after this interview with the Russian foreign minister know that there will be military activity in Russia if Sweden joins NATO. Should Finland join NATO the tone in Moscow will probably be even harsher. When Sweden and Finland join NATO it would be a good idea to join together. The present center-left Swedish government is most likely fighting a loosing battle in the long against NATO. Stockholm and are in the front-line of the New Cold War and cannot survive as independent nations in a military conflict between NATO and Russia.
Russian agents are active in Sweden supporting the NATO resisters. The Swedish Army Chief left his post recently in frustration over the lack of funds for the Swedish army. The Swedish defense expenditure is presently at around 1,1 percent of GNP.