In part 2 [ Download] of an interview with the Voice of Russia, Agneta Norberg, Vice Chair of the Swedish Peace Council, Member of Steering Committee in International Peace Bureau and a member of the board of directors of Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space discusses the facts surrounding Sweden’s non-neutrality and the country’s involvement in NATO and Western military expansion. Ms. Norberg gives her views on drones which she calls “murder machines” and the development and testing of drones in Sweden, including a new drone being developed in a joint European project.
Robles: How does Sweden officially explain that they allow these installations? And do you think all these maneuvers are designed to intimidate Russia or to try to exercise sovereignty on the Arctic?
Norberg: Well, when we drift to Arctic, I think there are two things going on here. When they are interviewed, those who are in charge of these maneuvers, they always answer that this is for the Arctic, they openly express this – these maneuvers are for the Arctic and the resources which will be available when the ice is melting.
But the NATO maneuvers are so seldom covered in the news, in media, specifically not here in the south, I live in Stockholm, up in the north, in the local newspapers they are covered rather extensively. And they used to send quotes from the newspapers for me, otherwise I wouldn’t have known it, because the media doesn’t cover it in the south, in Stockholm, where most of the people live.
So, it is, a sort of: secretly hidden from the public to understand what is really going on. But when they are asked, they say: this is for the Arctic.
And also one thing I think you’ve mentioned is that Sweden is neutral. Forget that! We are not neutral! We have for long abolished the neutrality. We are not non-aligned; we are nothing, because we are openly conducting war games with NATO.
But there is one difficulty because the people in Sweden and in Finland are against. It is only about 19% of the Swedish population that accept NATO, the others don’t. So, they have that problem here.
But I can see the lust, how they try to form an enemy out of Russia, and you should understand this: how Russia now is demonized, again. And I’m so old, so I remember how they were demonizing the former Soviet Union, always, and almost on daily basis. And now we are there again.
So, we have here in one of the latest (Names Swedish newspaper in Swedish) a picture of Putin and Russia is arming, here, and how the Russian bear now starts showing its muscles. So, at the same time, as you have these military maneuvers and military flexing of muscles, you seldom get information to the public here.
I was speaking in Norway last summer and they didn’t know about these things. I’m very often on speaking tours in the north. I was in Finland last autumn and they didn’t know about these military maneuvers either. They were really shocked when I told them.
So, here we are again, from the Cold War days, gradually Russia is the threat. And when I talk to Russian people they are not aware of this. It is like when I was travelling in the former Soviet Union, they were not aware of how you were depicted and described as a big-big threat. And I think we are there again, hiding what the NATO is doing in our country and in the north, and describing the threat of Russia coming. There we are again.
Robles: Would you say it is worse than it was in the Soviet times?
Norberg: It is about the same now. We are in square one, we are back in the Cold War sentiment in a way. But it is even worse now because during the Cold War, at least Sweden had a posture that we are non-aligned and neutral. Not anymore! We have left our neutrality, we have left our non-aligned posture.
Not openly, the neutrality we have left openly, but not the non-aligned posture. I can give you an example: they are now training in the North America (for) war in Nevada.
They were training together with the US in 2006 in Alaska. They went with 6 or 7 war planes to Alaska and made a huge maneuver outside North Korea together with the US.
So, we are actively joining in different parts of the world. Of course we are in Afghanistan now.
And so I think you have to start to understand that Sweden has quite another position now and we are a NATO country. It is only a document that is left to be done. That’s the situation now in Sweden.
Robles: Can you tell us a little bit about what you think the US and NATO’s plans are for the Arctic?
Norberg: I can see that they are making a lot of war games together up in the north.
And I also know that the US and Canada are the same, I mean they are in the same organization. Canada has lost much of what they had before. I have a map in front of me where I have all the installations, and the North American-Canada Command had merged together.
So, up in the north you have a very strong militarization from Canada’s point of view and they are building up their military as never before.
And one thing that I think is important to mention is the drones. Canada is planning for a huge drone fleet, and so is Sweden. Now we have one of the world’s biggest drones which is ready in the North European Airspace Test Range which is one of the biggest in Europe for training drones.
Robles: What’s your opinion on drones?
Norberg: They should be banished, abolished or banned because they are terrible murder…, we call them “murder machines”. They are conducted from Nevada test site. They sit there in front of computers and kill people in Yemen, in Pakistan and many places.
We have a huge training area: as big as Macedonia, called the North European Airspace Test Range in the northern part of Sweden where they train these drones. So, we are in this arms buildup, it’s rather dangerous I think.
The newest one is Neuron. It is a cooperation between Sweden, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland on one of the world’s biggest drones Neuron. That is a prototype that is now ready this year.
Robles: What is your opinion on the legality of drones because the users face no risk?
Norberg: They are totally illegal. You sit in a bunker, you don’t see anything, you just sit in front of a screen and see the target. We call them “murder machines” because these are murders. They “say” they kill Al-Qaeda.
Agneta Norberg is the Vice Chair of the Swedish Peace Council, a member of the Steering Committee in International Peace Bureau and on the board of directors of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.