The think tank exposes Russia’s malicious operations to prevent Sweden’s NATO accession
After the official decision of the Swedish government to join NATO, political parties, public organizations and other actors from May 2022 to January 2023 greatly intensified their efforts to undermine the move.
Such activities bear the hallmarks of Russian “active measures”, both due to the fact that they meet Russia’s strategic interests in countering the entry of Sweden and Finland into NATO, and due to the close ties between the actors involved in both the Soviet Union and modern Russia, which therefore deserves special attention, according to a report by the Ukrainian-based Center for Defense Reforms, Guildhall reports, as seen by Ukrinform.
The most recent example was the burning of the Koran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm by the leader of the Danish far-right organization Hard Line, Rasmus Paladan. It is known that the action was paid for by Chang Frick, presenter of a TV channel run by the right-wing party Sweden Democrats, who has worked for the Russian propaganda newspaper Russia Today, which justifies the occupation of Crimea and calls for the deployment of Russian troops in Sweden.
As a result of the stunt, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a statement condemning the move, adding that Sweden should not expect Turkish consent to join the alliance.
One of the key subjects demanding that Sweden reverse its bid to join NATO is the Swedish Left Party (Sweden’s former Communist Party), which during the Soviet era was controlled and directly funded by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. On May 16, 2022, the Swedish Left Party together with the Green Party held a protest against Sweden’s intention to join NATO. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014, the Left Party funded the separatist proxy organization, run by the Russian special services, called Borotba. It became known for the attempts to destabilize Odesa and participated in the attempts to establish the “Kharkiv People’s Republic”.
On February 5, 2021, the Left Party arranged a meeting with the Russian ambassador to Sweden Viktor Tatarintsev on the theme: “The crucial importance of dialogue for peace.” On the eve of Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine, on February 18, it became the only party in the European Parliament to vote against increasing military aid to Ukraine.
Another organization that systematically works against Sweden’s accession to NATO, which acted as a co-organizer of the action on May 16, is the Confederation against NATO. The association participates in Russian malign influence operations, in particular the Russian-Swedish anti-war camp “For Peace” on Åland, which was taken in tandem with the Swedish military exercises Aurora-17 in 2017. Finnish authorities then prevented the plan for the Russian sailing ship Kruzenshtern, with 150 military personnel on board, to “visit” the camp.
The third participant in the action on 16 May, which systematically opposed Sweden’s course towards NATO, was the Green Party. Since the end of the 1980s, the Swedish environmental movement has systematically criticized investments in nuclear energy, which has resulted in an increased dependence of Sweden on Russian energy. Worth noting is that the Green Party, together with the Left Party, was also involved in arranging a meeting with the Russian ambassador on 5 February 2021 and also participated in the Swedish-Russian camp “For Peace” on Åland. In particular, three legislators with the Green Party, Annika Lillemets, Walter Mutt and Karl Schliter, participated.
One of the key areas for undermining the process of Sweden’s integration into NATO is the Swedish-Turkish relations. To try to destroy these relations, the large Kurdish community in Sweden, which is hostile to Turkey, has been used.
On January 12, 2023, the Kurdish organization Rojava Committee held a protest against NATO and Turkey. During the action, the Rojava Committee displayed a picture of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and hung it upside down. Rojava, or the Autonomous Administration of Northern and Eastern Syria, has close ties to the Russian Federation. Russia is an important international partner in the effort to legalize Rojava’s autonomy. Notably, the Russian Federation included the autonomous region in the 2016 draft of the new constitution for Syria.
The Rojava Committee and the branch of the PKK in Sweden regularly hold anti-Turkish protests, especially in the last six months, such actions have taken place on July 9, August 12, September 11, and January 12 and 21, 2023.