The chief analyst of Sweden’s security service (SAPO) said on March 18 that one-third of Russia’s diplomats serving in Sweden are actually spies engaged in clandestine intelligence. Wilhelm Unge said during a conference in Solna, Sweden, that the Russian diplomats are "highly educated and often younger than during the Soviet era. They are driven, goal-oriented and socially competent." Unge added that Russia is the “biggest intelligence threat against Sweden, followed by Iran and China." In 2014, he said, his security service halted Russian attempts to obtain Swedish tech for military purposes. 
 
Also last year, SAPO warned that Russia had increased its espionage involving military, economic, and political targets. "There are hundreds of Russian intelligence officers around Europe and the West. They violate our territory every day," Unge told reporters as his agency published its annual report. "What's notable is that about one-third of the Russian diplomatic personnel are in reality not diplomats but intelligence officers," he said.
 
Said Unge, "Why don't we send them out?" …Counter-espionage comes with the complication that we're following other governments. This becomes politics directly. So we don't own the decisions of who should or shouldn't be in Sweden. That's up to the government." 
 
For its part, Sweden’s foreign ministry would not say whether it shares Unge’s findings. Spokeswoman Anna Ekberg said, according to AP, "We expect Russia to respect the Vienna Convention and that their diplomats are actually diplomats." 
 
Sweden is not part of NATO, but does cooperate with its Western allies. During the Cold War, Sweden frequently mustered its navy in response to the detection of possible Russian submarine intrusions. In November 2014, Sweden confirmed that a mini submarine of unknown provenance entered its territorial waters in October. General Sverker Goeranson told the media at the time, “The Swedish defence forces can confirm that a mini submarine violated Swedish territory. This is a serious and unacceptable violation by a foreign power."  In response to the incursion, Sweden mustered more than 200 troops, as well as various navy surface craft, minesweepers, and helicopters. Over the last ten years, Sweden has significantly decreased its spending on defense. The latest incursion has caused some overservers to question the wisdom of having a declining naval presence in the Baltic and Arctic seas.

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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