ALPO RUSI: REVIEW 2021 OF DAGBOK FRÅN UD VOL 1-5: ”The Diaries reveal –  was Sweden Finlandized??

A book review by Alpo Rusi, Helsinki, former Ambassador and Professor:

Originally published in Sotilasaikakauslehti 3/2021 with the title Päiväkirjat paljastavat – Ruotsilla oma suomettumishistoriansa? (”The Diaries reveal –  was Sweden Finlandized?”

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The Diaries reveal –  was Sweden Finlandized?? By Alpo Rusi

Bo J.Theutenberg: Volym 1-5: Dagbok från UD, Stockholm Institute of International Law, Arbitration and Conciliation, 2012, 2014,2017, 2018, 2020.

Professor and veteran diplomat Ambassador Bo Theutenberg, born 1942, had a remarkable career in the Swedish Foreign Ministry from 1966. He resigned from his post as the Legal Adviser of the Foreign Ministry “in protest against the Swedish Soviet-policy” in spring 1987. The Non-Socialist Thorbjörn Fälldin Government had in 1976 appointed him to the post of the Foreign Ministry´s Legal Adviser in International law (UD:s Folkrättssakkunnige) which post he held until the aftermath of the death of Prime Minister Olof Palme on 28 February 1986. Theutenberg’s doctoral dissertation in 1972 dealt with the concept of sovereignty in international law. After his resignation from the Swedish Foreign Ministry Theutenberg continued his career by advising the government of Latvia on the withdrawal of the former Soviet troops in the early 1990s.

In 2012 Theutenberg began a major work by publishing in the course of eight years five volumes of his diaries and documents containing 3500 pages. His books reveal interesting details also from the point of Finland. He discusses the influence of KGB, which also reveals the background of his remarkable decision to leave the foreign ministry “in protest” in the spring 1987, where it must be underlined that his resignation took place at a point when he was responsible for the extremely sensitive and difficult “secret soundings and negotiations” that he was entrusted to carry out during summer and autumn 1985 with the Soviet Union regarding the delimitation of the so called White zone area (Fishing/ Economic zone) east of Gotland which matter had been controversial between Sweden and the Soviet Union for 15 years and which matter was about to be solved through Theutenberg. According to his description mainly in volume 5 chapters 71-73 pp 41-83 and chapters 80-82 pp 511-558) – leading up to his resignation – he was put under pressure by the “Leftist Entorage”, as he names his opponents in the Foreign Ministry, to “lay down his maximal pressure on the Soviet Union”, which of course is a very serious accusation.  Theutenberg refused and resigned!  

Theutenberg is, thus, able to reveal the penetration of the KGB in the Swedish Foreign Ministry after the election of Olof Palme to Prime Minister in 1969. Theutenberg has further studied the KGB archives of 25 000 documents collected by the KGB-Archivist Vasilij Mitrokhin kept at the Winston Churchill Library at Cambridge University. Theutenberg is convinced that the KGB has had an impact on a number of decisions regarding Sweden’s foreign- and security policy through its Swedish KGB-agents as well as through its agents of influence not least in the Swedish press and mass media. He valued the cooperation with Palme but criticizes him for a foreign policy with a “Janus face” who was prone to exercise his own foreign policy. In concrete terms Palme and his closest advisors (the “Leftist Entourage”) took decisions and undertook operations which were not informed to the parliament or even to the Foreign Ministry in due time. One could ask whether Sweden had its own history of “Finlandization” which has not yet been disclosed?

Theutenberg reveals a number of Swedish agents of the KGB and the East German “STASI”. A STASI agent held a seat in the governing council of SIPRI. He was an expert coming from East-Germany but also a recruited agent of STASI. In 1963 Colonel Stig Wennerström (code “Örnen”) was detained  after 15 years of espionage for the GRU.  Suspicions against former Under State Secretary of the Foreign Ministry Sverker Åström were taken up simultaneously but without any results. Another spy case was Stig Bergling who was detained in 1979. He had worked for Säpo’s counterintelligence and was recruited by the GRU in 1973. Theutenberg has proved, based on a number of documents, that former Swedish ambassador to Moscow 1947-64, Rolf Sohlman, the closest advisor to the Swedish Foreign Minister Östen Undén, was the KGB’s agent of influence with the code “Solstickan” (volume 5 Appendix 4, pp 908-922; a list of KGB-agents related to Sweden).  

In the summer 1989 a spy hunt took place in Sweden as a result of the revelation by Dagens Nyheter (DN) that former Under State Secretary Sverker Åström was the KGB’s agent with the code “Getingen” (volume 3 chapter 48 pp 65-135). The doubt was based on an investigation of a former KGB officer who had defected in Australia in 1963. Åström had served in the Swedish embassy in the Soviet Union in 1940-43 and as ambassador in the UN 1964-70 as well as Under State Secretary 1972-1977. Säpo had warned about Åström for security risks. In the Swedish media it has been discussed that Åström may have been either an agent or a trusted contact of the KGB throughout his long career in the foreign ministry. One of the critical aspects related to Åström is that he never wanted to open an investigation about the destiny of Raoul Wallenberg. “Solstickan” and “Getingen” worked together, Theutenberg maintains (volume 3, chapters 48 and 49 pp 65-242).

Theutenberg’s most important whistleblower has been the head of Counter-Intelligence of Säpo 1966-78, Olof Frånstedt. In 2016 in a number of interviews with Theutenberg Olof Frånstedt told him that Palme after 1969, when Palme became Prime Minister, supported the Social Democratic Party’s own secret intelligence office IB (secretly kept at the Defense staff) for the purpose to weaken the official security police Säpo Palme as a young and ambitious new Prime Minister wanted rather his friend and the party member, the IB-Chief Birger Elmér, to coordinate and de facto lead any work of intelligence and espionage. The aim was to facilitate Palme and his advisors to set up channels of communication with any foreign intelligence, mainly KGB and CIA. In 1972 Palme ordered Frånstedt to set up a contact with the Resident of the KGB in Stockholm in order to “balance” CIA, but Frånstedt rejected the proposal (volume 3 chapter 49 pp 137-242).

The KGB wanted Sweden to follow Finland’s line of foreign policy which was demanded by the head of the prestigious institute of the USA and Canada, Georgi Arbatov and another high level diplomat after Palme had won the elections in September 1982. The member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Giorgi Arbatov was also a member of the 1980 established Palme Commission on Disarmament and Security Issues, which dealt with nuclear disarmament issues including the establishment of Nuclear free zones, a matter that Theutenberg as the Legal adviser was heavily involved in (he recommended strongly against such zones and constructions) and which Theutenberg describes mainly in volume 4, also disclosing the KGB-connections of Finland’s Prime minister and Social Democratic Party chairman Kalevi Sorsa as well as other sensitive KGB-matters related to Finland and even to President Koivisto (volume 4 chapters 60 and 61 pp 47-123). 

However, “the submarine affairs” in 1981-83 may have changed Palme’s attitude to become more critical regarding the Soviet Union. A special Commission led by former defense and foreign minister Sven Andersson published its report on 26 April 1983 accusing the Soviets for the submarine incidents in October 1982 at Hårsfjärden in the Stockholm archipelago inside the Swedish border line quite close to the naval bases of Berga and Muskö. Theutenberg is critical for the “watering down”, or the weakening, of the position of the Swedish government in the Note of Protest to the Soviet Union on 26 April 1983, which he wrote, although the violations were obvious. Here Theutenberg sees the internal “influence of Kgb” as well as the ultimate reason for his resignation. The Swedish ambassador in Moscow Carl de Geer regretted, further, to Theutenberg for the Finlandization of the Swedish archipelago. The Andersson report of 26 April 1983 damaged the relations of Denmark, Sweden and Norway with the Soviet Union but president Mauno Koivisto of Finland disagreed with the report. “Fantasies” (volume 1 chapters 4 and 5 pp 97-135, chapters 7-13 pp 151-221 /note the title of chapter 7 “In the Presidential Castle in Helsinki/, volume 4 chapters 62 and 63 pp 288-523). 

The Swedish, ÖB, i.e. the Commander of the Swedish armed forces, signed a secret memo on 18 of December 1987, by confirming that a foreign country had violated the Swedish territorial waters for at least 20 years. “Most probably the violations have been caused by the Soviet vehicles although no 100% confirmation can be reached”. (Volume 5, 2020, pp 645-649).

In his fifth volume (2020) Theutenberg discusses the background of the assassination of Palme. One could ask whether Sweden had its own history of “Finlandization” which has not been exposed so far? However,  Theutenberg reveals that Palme – who was a true friend of the United States and also entertained a surprisingly positive look on NATO, which his mentor Prime Minster Tage Erlander secretly had started to cooperate with in the early 1950´ies – honored the secret defense and intelligence agreements between Sweden and US/NATO until his very death. Which provokes the question about Palme´s “real position” in relation to both the Soviet Union (KGB) and US/NATO/ CIA. As a conclusion of his Five-Volumes-Diaries Theutenberg gives his opinion about this very crucial question. Who was in fact Olof Palme? (volume 5 pp 864-869).   

Theutenberg is convinced that a Kgb officer working under a cover task at the Soviet Embassy in Stockholm, Vladimir Nezjinski, was aware of the forthcoming assassination of Olof Palme, this based on the illegal bugging into the wall of Nezjinski’s apartment (volume 5 chapter 94 pp 813-843). “Palme played a double game which caused his death”. Theutenberg is critical for the failed investigation and the lack of interest to follow the KGB-line in the early stages of the investigation. The main cause for murdering Palme are the Weapons /armorial affairs involving both India, Iran and Iraq, the so called “Bofors affairs” which together with factors related to the PKK and the Kurds also came to involve the Kgb as supervising the events. However, it was not the Kgb that shot, but a Soviet-related Kurdish killer (Volume 5, 2020, chapters 91-95 pp 769-869 and “A murder summary” at pp 871-882. 

Finally it must be emphasized that Theutenberg also was responsible for and much interested in the Polar areas, both the Arctic and Antarctica, in which fields he pushed Sweden to become a so called Consultative State of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty in 1988 as well as he laid the ground for the today existing regional cooperation in the Arctic. All five volumes contain substantial information about the Swedish, Danish (Greenland), Norwegian (Svalbard, Jan Mayen, Barents sea etc) and Finnish polar policies. 

Also he was very interested in Islamic matters, foremost the interpretation of the sharia law, where he deeply penetrates into the different schools of interpretation of the Sharia law, this in order to influence the interpreters (the ulama, the sheiks and Imams) not to choose a radical/ fundamentalist interpretation of the sharia law, but to steer clear from such interpretations which would jeopardize the stability of the international law and at last ruin the whole corpus of international law. I all five volumes are found sections related to the Islamic law system, including a report from Theutenberg´s visit in 1980 the Sheik Al Azhar in Cairo (volume 3 chapter 56 pp 495-522 and chapters 58-59 pp 591-686; volume 4 chapter 60 pp 25-46, 131-158).

DAGBOK FRÅN UD volumes 1-5 can be bought only at the link 

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