The Swedish government said on Monday (30 January) that it would not hinder Russia’s Gazprom in its plan to use a southern Swedish port as a base for constructing a gas pipeline project that has raised security concerns.
The government had earlier expressed its fears about Gazprom’s plans to use the port of Karlshamn to build its Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Sweden’s military has also questioned the plan.
Officials in Karlshamn, on the Baltic Sea, are likely to vote ‘yes’ to an agreement after the government said additional security measures at the port would allow the plan to go ahead.
Late last year, the island of Gotland rejected a similar deal citing government worries.
“If Karlshamn chooses to proceed this will not threaten defence policy interests,” Foreign Minister Margot Wallström told a news conference. “We have had a good dialogue with the municipalities and they have been receptive to the information they have received from the government.”
Public broadcaster Radio Sweden reported earlier on Monday that local authorities had given assurances that they would be able to keep tabs on activities at the port, adding that Karlshamn already handles a large number of Russian ships.
Both the Baltic Sea harbours at Karlshamn and Slite, Gotland, are in strategically sensitive areas, with Karlshamn around 50 km (30 miles) from the large naval base at Karlskrona.
Russian military activity in the Baltic Sea has increased since the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and last year Sweden permanently posted military forces on Gotland for the first time in more than a decade.
Gazprom plans to double the capacity of the existing Nord Stream pipeline under the Baltic Sea. This has met resistance, above all from Ukraine, which could lose transit earnings, and heightened concerns of European over-reliance on Russian gas.