13:11 GMT +319 October 2019
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    Russian soldiers watch a transporter-loader place an Iskander-M shorter-range missile onto a self-propelled launcher

    Swedish Military Intel Boss Sees "Threat" From Russian Missiles, Chinese Bases

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    A fresh Swedish military intelligence report points out Russia's increased defence capabilities and China's growing interest in Europe and the Arctic as the most important security trends.

    In its annual report, the Swedish Military Intelligence and Security Service (MUST) has predicted that Sweden's vicinity in the coming years will be characterised by the antagonism between Russia and the US and NATO, envisioning a possible polarisation.

    "There are few signs today that the parties are ready to approach each other to handle existing security challenges", the MUST report said.

    According to MUST chief Gunnar Karlson, Russia has continued to modernise its arsenal and strengthen its military capabilities.

    "The have not become more, but they have become better", Karlson told the newspaper Eskilstuna Kuriren, venturing that Russia has bolstered its military presence in the Baltic Sea area.

    Karlson described Russia's weaponisation as a slow, yet continuous process, in which older aircraft and naval vessels are replaced by more modern ones and increasingly complex exercises are carried out.

    READ MORE: Swedish Defence Institute Disparages S-400, Calls Russia 'Underdog'

    Still, he found his compatriots' obsession on Russia's new Iskander robots in its westernmost part, Kaliningrad Region, "difficult to understand".

    "I believe it has become a little difficult to understand Sweden's fixation on just one thing, namely Iskander robots in Kaliningrad", Karlson said, suggesting that the Kaliningrad Region hosts other missile systems as well. The Iskanders are also in other places and may be moved around, he pointed out.

    Another player identified as a threat in MUST's annual report is China. According to MUST, China is boosting its activity in Sweden's vicinity. As a result of climate change, China is investing in transport links in the Arctic within the framework of the project Polar Silk Road. By extension, this may involve security risks, once China decides to set up military bases in the area, the MUST boss pointed out.

    "Across the world, we see China's will to acquire bases, with Somalia and Sri Lanka as the most well-known examples. The question whether China would like to have bases in our part of the world will be relevant sooner or later, if it already isn't", Karlson said.

    READ MORE: 'More Than a Ballistic Missile': Nordic Analyst on Iskander's Alleged Threat

    China's process of building aircraft carriers is seen as one particular examples of its ability to project military power across the globe. Karlson described them as "the ultimate symbol of desire to move military power at will".

    Earlier this year, the Swedish Security Police published a security report of its own, warning of Chinese and Russian intelligence operations in the country.

    MUST is a department at the Armed Forces headquarters tasked with monitoring the threats against the Swedish Armed Forces, such as alien intelligence, crime, terrorism, sabotage, and subversion.

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    Scandinavia, Baltic Sea, Sweden, China, Russia, Arctic
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