Fake letter "likely to be part of wider campaign"

5:44 min

A letter written on paper with the Swedish government letterhead indicating that Sweden is doing special favours for the Ukraine has appeared on Russian TV. But the letter is fake, and is likely to be part of a wider campaign against Sweden, according to one analyst.

The letter is supposed to have been sent by Tora Holst, chief prosecutor at the International Public Prosecution Office in Stockholm, on behalf of the Minister for Justice, Morgan Johansson. The letter indicates that Ukraine wants to influence the judicial process regarding a war crimes suspect in Sweden - and suggests Sweden is prepared to take Ukranian interests into account.

Björn Palmertz is a senior analyst at the Swedish Defence Academy and an expert in strategic communications and influence operations. He told Radio Sweden that we know the letter is fake, partly because chief prosecutor Tora Holst has stated that she has not written it. Also, the letterhead is from the Ministry of Justice of Sweden, but Tora Holst works for the Swedish Prosecution Authority, and she also explained in the media that they would never write a letter with the ministry letterhead.

"But also to looking at the detail, the logo is in Swedish, on an English language letter to a claimed government recipient in another country, and that also seems rather weird," said Palmertz.

So who is behind this forgery?
"It is difficult to trace digitally disseminated media, the author doesn't want to be found. But the methodology fits with the general Russian statements regarding Sweden recently, as well as prior false letter regarding Swedish exports of arms to the Ukraine which surfaced earlier this year - that was very rapidly refuted by the Swedish the government," he said.

What do they hope to achieve?
"Possibly and likely to discredit and also attempt to build a link between the policies of Sweden and the Ukraine, that fits with a world view that the West is conspiring to constrain Russia and threaten its strategic goals," he said.

Why is it appearing now?
"We've seen an escalation, both in terms of different types of statements from the Russian leadership as well as media reports portraying Sweden, Swedish military and societal capability as well as the foreign policy in a negative light in the last few years, this is possibly one planned component of such a campaign," says Björn Palmertz, who doesn't think this will be the last fake political letter we will see resurfacing.