13:51 GMT28 January 2020
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    The bidding war over the privately-owned submarine port on the Swedish island of Gotland continues. While it remains unclear in whose possession the port will end, it can be said for sure that the Swedish Navy is out of the tender. At the same time, the port owner denied any Russian involvement, which somewhat soothed Swedish society.

    Over a decade ago, the Swedish Navy mistakenly privatized Fårösund port, a strategic location which features a submarine berth. Recently, it had second thoughts about the sale and tried to return it to the state, largely due to the alleged Russian "threat," which is being peddled in the Swedish media almost 24/7. However, the Armed Forces' bid proved to be the lowest and it was soon out of the running.

    The former submarine harbor Fårösund on Gotland is currently owned by entrepreneur Joachim Kuylenstierna, who made it clear that the price tag will be far higher than the 18 million SEK ($2 mln) he once paid for the port, which was estimated to have cost 500 million SEK ($55 mln) to build. In an interview with the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet, Kuylenstierna made no effort to conceal that the Navy's modest bid of 20 million SEK ($2.2 mln) did not look particularly appealing to him, compared to other bids as high as 82 million SEK ($9.1 mln).

    "They have placed the lowest bid of all, it was not even near what I want. They are no longer in the game," Joachim Kuylenstierna told Svenska Dagbladet.

    Previously, the Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces Michael Bydén reiterated the Navy's interest in infrastructure and ensured it would like to obtain control of the strategic port. The Armed Forces' interest soared after Gotland, Sweden's largest Baltic island with a population of 55,000, was identified as a possibly point of entry in the event of Russian aggression and saw sudden remilitarization last year.

    In late February, the issue of reclaiming Fårösund gained particular momentum, as the Swedish economic daily Dagens Industri reported Russian entrepreneur Vladimir Antonov, who is in Sweden best known for his fruitless efforts to acquire Saab Automobile, to be among the bidders, which quickly snowballed into yet another instance of the "Russian threat." Joachim Kuylenstierna vehemently denied the allegations and claimed to have never had contact with Antonov. Lars Carlström, a friend of Antonov's and his former advisor, claimed Antonov's name to have been used with the simple intent of bidding up the price, the Swedish tabloid newspaper Expressen reported.

    The Fårösund shipyard opened in 1938 to support the Coastal Artillery and the Navy during World War II, in which Sweden abided by its traditional non-allegiance policy at the cost of weighty concessions to Nazi Germany.

    ​With its well-placed location in relative proximity to the Stockholm archipelago, Fårösund became one of Sweden's most important harbors during the Cold War. The port's premises include around 25 facilities ranging from small sheds and garages to office buildings. With a harbor basin measuring a full 7.25 meters in depth, Fårösund harbor was specifically adapted for submarines, which made it particularly attractive for the Swedish Navy.

    On Wednesday, Joachim Kuylenstierna arrived in Switzerland to finalize the deal on Fårösund, the Gotland news portal Hela Gotland reported.


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