Sweden's security police say Russia is 'single biggest threat' to country

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By Euronews  with AFP
Video released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Feb. 22, 2023, shows the Russian military's Grad multiple rocket launcher firing rockets at Ukrainian troops.
Video released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Feb. 22, 2023, shows the Russian military's Grad multiple rocket launcher firing rockets at Ukrainian troops.   -  Copyright  Russian Defense Ministry Press Service photo via AP

Swedish intelligence now sees Russia as the single biggest threat to the country's security.

In a warning, the SÄPO security service pointed to a more aggressive Russia and a growth in extremism. It follows an earlier alert from Swedish military intelligence, rating the current threat as the most serious” it has been since the Cold War.

The security service statement described Russia on Wednesday as the "single biggest threat" to Sweden.

"It's happening through infiltration and the influencing of decision-makers. But also by building up an ability to create an alternative social structure. For example, to have an alternative power of order," said Susanna Trehörning, deputy head of counter-terrorism at SÄPO.

Concerns about Russia and its destabilising activitities in the region were centre stage at the summit in Poland of the so-called Bucharest Nine -- NATO's newest members on the alliance's eastern flank.

Attending as part of his three day trip to Europe, US President Joe Biden reaffirmed America's commitment to the security of the B-9, whose members joined the military alliance after being under Moscow's sphere of influence during the Cold War . 

They are now looking at Moscow's expansionist ambitions with concern.

"The commitment of the United States to NATO, I've said it too many times, I'll say it again, is absolutely clear. Article Five is a sacred commitment the United States has made. We will defend every inch of NATO, every inch of NATO," Biden told the alliance's eastern European leaders.

Support for Ukraine and NATO was Biden's mission to Europe.

He's concluded his trip hoping to have convinced European allies of America's committment .

They will be hoping he does not falter when he returns home to face Republican criticism over the cost of his reassurances.

Claudio Bresciani/TT News Agency via AP
(L-R) Norway's Prime MinisterJonas Gahr Store, Sweden's PM Ulf Kristersson, and Finland's PM Sauli Niinisto at a security summit at Flen, Sweden, Feb. 22.Claudio Bresciani/TT News Agency via AP

Security situation 'most serious' since Cold War

Swedish military intelligence on Monday called the security situation in the Nordic countries and Europe following Russia's invasion of Ukraine "the most serious" since the early 1980s, during the Cold War era.

"The risks to Sweden's security have increased and the threats to Sweden have become broader and more complex," the Swedish armed forces said in a statement.

The assessment was presented in the Swedish Military Security and Intelligence Services' (MUST) annual security report.

"Today we have a situation of conflict and confrontation between Russia and the West, which is likely to worsen," stressed the director of military intelligence and security services Lena Hallin, in the preamble of the report.

According to her, the security situation in Europe and in the region bordering Sweden is currently "the most serious at least since the early 1980s".

Sweden, along with neighbouring Finland, broke with its decades-long policy of military non-alignment and declared itself a candidate for Nato membership in May 2022 following the Russian offensive in Ukraine.

Sweden's application has been opposed by Turkey, which accuses the Scandinavian country of harbouring Kurdish militants whom it describes as "terrorists", particularly those of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The accession protocols of new NATO members must be ratified by all 30 members of the organization. Only Turkey and Hungary have not yet had their parliaments ratify the agreement for the accession of the two Nordic countries.