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Sweden not to give up its neutrality — government

April 29, 17:08 UTC+3 STOCKHOLM
The Swedish prime minister and foreign minister commented on a remark of the Russian foreign minister that Moscow retains its right to take retaliatory measures in case Sweden joins NATO.
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STOCKHOLM, April 29 /TASS/. Sweden does not intend to give up its policy of neutrality, Swedish Prime Minister Stephan Leven and Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said on Friday commenting a remark of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that Moscow retained its right to take retaliatory measures in case Sweden joined NATO.

"Sweden has been a neutral country for a long time. We have told the world about that many times, and Moscow knows about that," the Swedish news agency TT quoted Prime Minister Stephan Leven as saying.

"It is Sweden and no one else who defines its security policy. The policy of non-alignment to military unions serves us well and remains unchanged," Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom wrote on his page in Twitter in turn.

In an interview with the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter given on Thursday, Lavrov said that Moscow would retain its right to take retaliatory measures if Sweden joined NATO.

"I can immediately say that if Sweden decides to join NATO, we will not have thoughts that the Swedes are going to attack us. But since the Swedish military infrastructure will be subordinate to NATO’s Supreme Command in that case, we will certainly have to take some military and technical measures at our northern borders in view of the fact that a military political bloc, which considers Russia to be a threat and wants to deter it in every possible way, is located on the other side of the border," Lavrov said.

"If military infrastructure is going to approach the Russian borders, Russia will have to react and take necessary military and technical measures," Lavrov told Dagens Nyheter.

"It is fundamentally important to understand the meaning of each other’s military doctrines, which used to be a topic for dialogue within the framework of the Russia-NATO Council, and that was quite useful because it was clear what each of the sides wanted," the Russian foreign minister said.

"We have always warned that while pursuing the policy of NATO’s infinite enlargement to the east [given that it is the right of every country to choose the form of ensuring its security - be it bilateral or multilateral unions], it is necessary to understand that if the military infrastructure is going to approach the Russian borders, we will naturally take all the necessary military and technical measures. As the saying goes, it is just business, nothing personal," Lavrov emphasized.

"We have always been told that NATO had no intention to take any measures, which can damage Russia’s security. But, if there are no intentions but the infrastructure is right ‘on our doorstep’, then perhaps we will have to build on what we can currently see with our own eyes rather than on the intentions," the Russian foreign minister added.

"I believe that any words that Russia has started acting dangerously in the proximity of NATO are nothing else than an unscrupulous attempt to turn things upside down," Lavrov said.

"It turns out that NATO’s enlargement closer to our borders have already violated the 1997 Founding Act, which says that NATO cannot permanently deploy substantial combat forces in the territories of new member states," the Russian diplomat explained.

Lavrov did not specify what concrete measures Russia could take.

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