Sweden warns of growing threat from Russia, as well as China and Iran

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Sweden warns of growing threat from Russia, as well as China and Iran
A headline in the Swedish security service's report reading 'serious security situation'. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Sweden's security service, Säpo, said Russia posed a threat to its territorial security amid heightened interest in the Arctic as the Scandinavian country prepares to join Nato.


Moscow also increasingly poses a threat of industrial espionage, as Sweden was seeing a rise in undercover agents from several countries, Säpo said as it presented its annual threat assessment report on Wednesday.

Sweden dropped two centuries of military non-alignment and applied for Nato membership in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Stockholm expects Hungary, the last holdout, to ratify its membership on Monday.

Säpo noted that Russia, along with China, was "conducting security-threatening activities in northernmost Sweden", and Sweden's and Finland's Nato membership would extend the alliance's border in the Arctic regions.

"Russia's interest in northern Sweden primarily concerns Swedish military capabilities," the intelligence service said.

Säpo chief Charlotte von Essen told reporters Sweden's security situation had deteriorated since Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

"Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine continues, the situation in the Middle East is serious after Hamas's attack against Israel on October 7th and in Sweden we have during the last year gone from an elevated to a high terror threat level," she told reporters.

Säpo said activities threatening Sweden's security were "conducted on a broad front, and foreign powers act offensively."

It singled out as an example the illicit acquisition of technology which could later be used in Russia's military industry.


China, Iran also threats

In January 2023, a former Swedish intelligence officer was handed a life sentence for spying for Russia.

And in September, a Russian-Swedish national went on trial accused of passing Western technology to Russia's military. A Stockholm court found he had exported the material but ruled his actions did not amount to intelligence gathering.

Säpo's assessment came just two days after Sweden's military intelligence service Must also pointed to Russia as the primary threat against the Nordic country.

Säpo also highlighted the threat of intelligence activities from China and Iran.

China was seen as an economic threat, acquiring "Swedish innovations, technological know-how and cutting-edge knowledge from industry and universities."


Säpo also recalled that Sweden had in the past year gone from being a legitimate target to a more prioritised target for Islamist extremists, following a slew of protests involving desecrations of the Quran in the country.

"The perception of Sweden has ultimately become a question of our security," von Essen said.

In October, two Swedish football fans were shot dead in Brussels by an Islamist gunman.


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