Sweden rejected the request of the state-owned Russian energy company, Gazprom, to store its pipes on one of Sweden’s islands in the Baltic Sea, after the Swedish government expressed its concern that the pipes might be bugged.
Officials on Gotland, Sweden’s military strategic island, heeded the government’s warning not to rent storage space to Russia’s state run energy giant in the ports of Slite and Karlshamn – because it would harm the nation’s defense and political interests.
According to the Swedish daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, military officials think the pipeline, which will run from Russia to Germany as part of the Nord Stream 2 project, might be bugged to tap into Swedish intelligence information. They also reportedly believe that Sweden’s deepest port, Slite, could be targeted for use by a Russian military fleet in case of a conflict in Baltic region.
In an 11-0 vote on Thursday, Gotland’s technical board said “no” to Russia’s Gazprom. The deal would have brought the island $1.6 million a year in rent.
There have been regional tensions in the Baltic region since Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea. In September, Sweden stationed permanent troops on Gotland, which Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist described as a signal to Russia to ‘stay away’.
Nord Stream 2 spokesman Ulrich Lissek said Gazprom will look for other alternatives around the Baltic Sea.
“We see ourselves as a European company with more than 20 different nationalities working here,” he said. “We’re a business company, not a spy company.”