Cyber attacks are becoming more commonplace, and Sweden should therefore raise the threshold against such attacks and build up the technical capabilities to launch its own cyber attacks against foreign powers, according to Peter Hultqvist, the defence minister.
He reveals to Dagens Nyheter (DN) that Swedish companies and authorities are the target of daily and varying forms of often very precise attacks, with the potential to cause major damage. In several cases it has emerged that foreign intelligence organisations are behind the attacks.
Hultqvist sees cyber attacks as a way to exert pressure on foreign countries before the situation reaches the point of armed conflict, and says this has happened in both Estonia and Georgia, and most recently in Ukraine where the attacks trace back to Russian interests.
Out of the ten countries currently conducting espionage activities in Sweden, Russia followed by China are the two most active intelligence gatherers, according to the Swedish Security Service.
The minister, who sees Denmark as a role model in beefing up its cyber security capabilities, says Sweden must be able to protect vital Swedish systems from attackers.
The government will today present proposals to the alliance parties at the defence budget talks, which aim to put in place stronger controls to protect against cyber attacks and build up Sweden’s own active capabilities as a deterrent against attacks.
“We believe this to be a very cost-effective way to raise the threshold for a power contemplating an attack on Sweden, or to exert pressure,” says Hultqvist, who does not wish to go into the cost aspect or which authority should be responsible for the active cyber attack capabilities.
Isabella Lövin, the minister for international development cooperation, who is currently attending the UN conference on disaster risk reduction in Japan, says the devastation caused by Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu places a focus on the very problems the conference is about.
“It is estimated that 98% of the people who die in natural disasters live in developing countries. A lot of damage reduction can be achieved with the help of preventive measures, but for countries like Vanuatu such measures are extremely costly,” says Lövin.
Meanwhile the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) is currently following up information about an elderly Swedish male citizen who is missing.
On Monday Russia launched a surprising military exercise in the Arctic, with the deployment of 38,000 troops, 41 military vessels, 15 submarines and 100 planes to the region.
“This is a massive contingency move by a regime that has a propensity to use surprise as an element to demonstrate its power. The unpredictability in the Russian action requires us in the Nordic region and in the EU to cooperate in strengthening our military capability,” commented Peter Hultqvist, the (S) defence minister, and emphasised the need for more military exercises in the Arctic.
“We have a security situation that has worsened. Russia’s actions are the fundamental reason for this worsened situation,” he said.
In 1998 the EU adopted a code of conduct on arms sales containing eight criteria, including one of respect for human rights, and in 2013 the EU-28 signed the UN Arms Trade Treaty, which prohibits the trade in conventional arms to countries that violate human rights or that use the arms against their civilian populations. Despite this many European countries rank human rights in second place when it comes to arms trading, reports Svenska Dagbladet. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, no less than eleven European countries have sold heavy weapons to Saudi Arabia over the past five years.
Commercial interests, and the arms industry which generates thousands of jobs, far outweigh the risk that arms are being used to violate human rights and to torture people. Economic policy takes precedence over morality, jobs take precedence over war crimes, writes SvD.
Some argue that the arms trade strengthens security in critical regions, and that business is a way to influence countries in the right direction in terms of human rights. Other condemn the trade: spineless, ethically objectionable and in some cases illegal, argue the critics.
There are competing views, and the controversy over Sweden’s Saudi deal is unlikely to narrow the perception gap, concludes the newspaper.
The Pacific island nation of Kiribati, a chain of 33 atolls and islands, is likely to become uninhabitable in the future because of sea level rise. The nation’s President Anote Tong is now seeking a global partnership to combat climate change and on Monday met International Development Cooperation Minister Isabella Lövin in Stockholm.
Both the President and Ms Lövin will take part in the third UN World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Sendai, Japan, this weekend.
Speaking to SvD, President Tong says that what is happening is a tragedy, and that initially technical equipment is needed in order for the population to feel safe the next time water sweeps across the islands.
Ms Lövin points out that natural disasters are now costing the world up to 300 billion US dollars annually in economic losses, while the annual global aid budget is 150 billion US dollars. Lövin notes: “This is how it is today. How will it be in 20 years, if we do nothing and temperatures continue to rise?”
The Swedish Riksbank has gone from being the best among its peers in 2008 and 2009 at forecasting inflation to lagging behind its peers in two-thirds of the predictions, writes Bloomberg after comparing forecasts by six central banks between 2008 and 2013. The Riksbank’s errors can be traced back to 2010 when Governor Stefan Ingves raised rates despite Europe being in the midst of the worst economic crisis since WWII, states Bloomberg.
A 28-year-old Syrian man accused of crimes against international law has been sentenced to five years in jail, and is now only the third person ever in Sweden to be convicted of war crimes. “Overall we are pleased with the ruling. We find that the court has made the same judgment as we have,” says Hanna Lemoine, prosecutor, and described the case as one with several difficulties.
The critical evidence was a film of a brutal beating (see SPR 26 February, Midday Ed.) that took place in Syria in 2012 and was uploaded to social media. Hans Brun, researcher into terrorism at Kind’s College, now hopes that the ruling will have importance in the future. “Then the major problem is those who return to Sweden from war zones and who cannot be convicted. Parliament and the government must consider this issue appropriately.” [http://www.svd.se/nyheter/inrikes/fem-ars-fangelse- for-folkrattsbrott-i-syrien_4363965.svd Accessed 2015-02-27 08.53]
During their meeting in Berlin yesterday Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed that they shared common interests in terms of migration and integration, and said they would now call for a fairer distribution of the refugee burden in the European Union. The two heads of government also discussed the crisis in Ukraine and relations with Russia, agreeing that diplomacy must be given a chance to succeed. However, neither rule out the possibility of new sanctions, if the truce is broken.