STOCKHOLM Dec 13 Sweden's government said on
Tuesday it would not stop two municipalities from leasing two
harbours to Russia's Gazprom to facilitate the
construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, despite concerns
"The use of the ports would affect Swedish defence interests
in a negative way, and we have informed the municipalities about
that," Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist told reporters on
A deal to lease the two harbours could yield up to 60
million Swedish crowns ($6.5 million) for the island of Gotland
and 100 million for Karlshamn, in southeast Sweden.
But the harbours are situated in strategically sensitive
areas and both the Swedish military and the security service, as
well as the centre-right opposition in parliament, have voiced
However, both Hultqvist and Foreign Minister Margot
Wallstrom have said the Swedish constitution prevents them
overruling the municipalities on the issue.
Hultqvist said that, according to current plans, the Nord
Stream 2 project would affect implementation of the Swedish
defence plan for 2016-2020, which included the reintroduction of
a permanent military presence on Gotland.
Gazprom's 9.9 billion euro plan will double the capacity of
the existing Nord Stream pipeline under the Baltic Sea.
It has met resistance from countries such as Ukraine, which
is set to lose transit earnings on Russian gas crossing its
territory, and others such as Poland and the United States, who
say it will make the EU too dependent on Russia, already the
source of one-third of its gas.
Running more than 1,200 km (750 miles) from the Russian
coast west of St Petersburg to northern Germany, the new
pipeline will run parallel to the current one, which has been in
operation since 2012, and double capacity to 110 billion cubic
metres (bcm) per year by 2019.
Since Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, its
military activity in the Baltic Sea has increased, and Sweden
this year re-established a permanent military presence on
Gotland for the first time since 2005.
Gotland's municipality is due to make an initial
recommendation on the harbour lease later this week.
($1 = 9.1725 Swedish crowns)
(Reporting by Bjorn Rundstrom; Editing by Kevin Liffey)