STOCKHOLM — Sweden informed Russia on Tuesday that five employees of the Russian Embassy in Stockholm were asked to leave the country because they were suspected of spying.
Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström said the alleged activities of the five were “incompatible” with their diplomatic status. Billström said Russia’s ambassador to Sweden, Viktor Tatarintsev, was informed of the expulsions.
The Swedish Security Service, which is known by the acronym SAPO, recently received a list of names of a number of suspected Russian intelligence officers, Swedish broadcaster SVT reported.
The domestic security agency has said that “every third Russian diplomat in Sweden is an intelligence officer.”
Sweden also expelled three Russian Embassy staff members a year ago. Neighboring Norway said two weeks ago that it was expelling 15 Russian diplomats accused of spying.
The public broadcasting companies of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden reported last week in a joint investigation that Russia was suspected of spying in the waters of the Baltic Sea and North Sea using civilian fishing trawlers, cargo ships and yachts.
For their series titled “Shadow War,” the broadcasters analyzed marine radio traffic and locations of Russian vessels. They said the data revealed suspicious sailing patterns, particularly around offshore wind farms, gas pipelines and undersea power and data cables.
A new episode is scheduled to air Wednesday.
Alarmed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, Sweden and neighboring Finland applied to join NATO in May 2022, seeking protection under the organization’s security umbrella. Finland joined the military alliance on April 4. However, objections from NATO members Turkey and Hungary have delayed the process for Sweden, which has avoided military alliances for more than 200 years.