Russia’s 'preparations for war on Sweden' lead to security service concerns

Fears spread from eastern Europe as Ukraine crisis continues

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Swedish security services have expressed serious concerns that Russia is heightening its spying efforts in Scandinavia and “preparing for war”, according to local media reports.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, the chief counter-intelligence analyst for the Säkerhetspolisen (Säpo) agency said that the escalating crisis in eastern Europe was the greatest security threat identified in a recent briefing.

Wilhelm Unge said communications from Russian intelligence agencies had increased, more attempts were being made to recruit spies and that Moscow had purchased a significant number of maps.

The spy chief said the developments were in keeping with recent trends, most notably the military flight exercises undertaken by Russia last year against simulated Swedish targets.

“You don't carry out these kinds of things unless you can actually conceive carrying out an attack in the future,” Mr Unge said.

He described Russian war preparations as “worrying” for Sweden, and linked the increased activity to the general heightening of tensions across Europe.

According to the Wall Street Journal, he told Swedish public radio: “Without going into details we see increased Russian intelligence activity at the moment because of what is happening in Ukraine and in Crimea.”

When Russia carried out its practice military exercises in the Baltic in March last year, flying war planes towards the Swedish border, the Scandinavian country’s military came under fire for not mobilising any jets of its own in response.

Sweden becomes the latest non-Nato-member in Europe to express concerns over President Vladimir Putin’s apparent Russian expansionism.

Last month one of Putin’s closest former advisors expressed fears that Finland was among a number of states in which Russia has plans to regain territory.

And the news came as Ukrainian authorities moved to oust pro-Russian activists from government buildings in its eastern city of Kharkiv.

Ukraine’s interim president, Oleksandr Turchynov, has accused Moscow of trying to repeat “the Crimea scenario”, whereby the peninsula was annexed by the Russian federation.