Putin on Stockholm visit
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is on an official visit to Sweden Wednesday and Thursday. It’s Putin’s first visit to this country since 2001, when he was Russia’s president.
Besides meeting King Carl Gustav, Putin held talks with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt. On the agenda were cooperation in the Arctic and in developing high technology Putin was also here to sign bilateral trade agreements similar to those Russia has signed with 13 other European countries.
Swedish trade with Russia has grown about 600 percent in the past ten years and over 400 Swedish companies are already active on the Russian market. But despite this the relationship between the two countries could best be described is civil but cold.
But with Russia currently undergoing a modernization process dear to both Putin and current President Dmitry Medvedev Sweden could come to play a more prominent role.
“Sweden is quite advanced when it comes to energy savings and energy efficiency. Russia is now coming to a point when they must save energy,” said Susanne Oxenstierna, a senior researcher at the Swedish Defence Research Agency.
“I think they have a lot to learn from Sweden.”
But at a press conference with his host Fredrik Reinfeldt, Prime Minister Putin also strongly criticised discrepancies between words and practice in modern international relations, to denounce civilian deaths in Libya. Moscow has increasingly criticised the international coalition for the air strikes on Libya in the past few weeks, insisting they have gone beyond the UN mandate.
Sweden, which is not a member of NATO, has pledged eight fighter jets and a transport plane to the mission, but they are only used for surveillance and do not take part in ground strikes.