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Russia blames Sweden for Ukraine crisis

March 9, 2015

Summary: Russian embassy angrily points the finger of blame for Ukraine towards Sweden (amongst others)

wallsKind of.  I couldn’t resist this one.  The political ripples of the Russia/Ukraine crisis spread even to Sweden as the Swedish Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström, described the Russian annexation of the Crimea as the greatest threat to European peace since 1989.  A war of words (only, fortunately) between the Russian embassy in Stockholm and various feisty Swedes, has broken out:

Writing on Facebook, the [Russian] embassy lambasted the “honoured minister” for the “one-sided” view of the Ukraine conflict she put forward in an opinion piece published on Friday in the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper.

In the article, Wallström said Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its military support for separatists in eastern Ukraine posed the greatest threat to peace in Europe since the end of the Cold War.

In its response, the Russian embassy suggested Sweden and others had provoked Russia into seizing part of its neighbour’s territory by offering Ukraine a pathway to membership of the European Union.

“The main tool turned out to be a state coup, a violent power takeover, which pushed Ukraine into the abyss of civil war,” the embassy wrote.

Carl Bergqvist, a Swedish air force major who tweets under the name Wiseman, likened the Russian embassy’s rhetoric to blaming a rape victim for her choice of clothing.

Annika Nordgren Christensen, a member of the Swedish Academy of War Sciences, agreed:

“Russia’s attitude towards Ukraine’s right to self-determination cannot be illustrated more clearly, and this is straight from the horse’s mouth.”

“It’s the ‘will of the West’ that has caused the war, ‘not least Sweden’,” wrote Christensen, who linked to the embassy’s Facebook post.

The Russian embassy said in its post that the Ukraine crisis was caused by “the will of the West, not least Sweden as an instigator of the EU’s Eastern Partnership, to do everything to push Kiev into the European Union.”

sweden-russia-sub.pngSweden has not avoided the fallout (bad pun) from the Ukraine conflict and the equally disturbing increase of Russian military muscle flexing in and around eastern Europe in recent months.  I think the Swedish defence establishment is still smarting from their failure to find an alleged Russian submarine, recalling Cold War days of the 1980s, reported in October last year in the Swedish territorial waters off Stockholm.

Aggresssive Russian use of aircraft has also increased diplomatic tensions:

The Guardian, 13 December 2014: For the second time this year, a Russian military aircraft turned off its transponders to avoid commercial radar and nearly collided with a passenger jet over Sweden, officials have said.

Swedish authorities said that on Friday, a Russian military aircraft nearly collided above southern Sweden with a commercial passenger jet that had taken off from Copenhagen in Denmark.

Sweden’s air force chief, Major General Micael Bydén, said the aircraft’s transponders, which make the plane visible to commercial radar, were shut off. Swedish fighter jets were sent up to identify the aircraft, and Hultqvist later identified it as a Russian intelligence plane.

“This is serious. This is inappropriate. This is outright dangerous when you turn off the transponder,” Swedish defence minister Peter Hultqvist said on Swedish radio.

Officials at Russia’s ministry of defence in Moscow were not available to comment on Saturday.

In the 2013 incident, Swedish fighters were unable to respond to the simulated attack (luckily the Danes were), causing great debate within Sweden that the nation’s defence cuts had gone too far, critically undermining the country’s ability.

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