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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Paid Debts to Sweden Due by End of February

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Russia has made debt payments to Sweden due by the end of February and to some other European Union countries as well, a Swedish official said Tuesday.

Stefan Noreen, the Swedish government's top official dealing with Russian affairs, told Reuters he was sure Moscow had paid all outstanding debts to Sweden.

"Whether all other EU countries have the same picture I don't know, but the signals are positive. The information I have indicates that Russia has fulfilled its payments also to several other EU countries," he said.

Noreen said he was referring to Russia's debt obligations to members of the so-called Paris Club of Western government creditors.

Russia said last month it would pay the roughly $3.8 billion it owes the Paris Club nations in 2001 rather than try to restructure the payments, prompting credit rating agency Standard & Poor's to raise its ratings on Russian state bonds.

"This is an important signal because unless Russia stands by its international payment obligations, the confidence in the Russian government's ability will dwindle," Noreen said.

"It is possible that this can lead to one or more new projects. If one pays off old loans, it facilitates the possibilities of getting new ones," he said.

Sweden holds the rotating EU presidency in the first half of 2001. Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet EU heads of state and government in Stockholm on March 23 in connection with the bloc's two-day employment summit.

Sweden has made EU-Russian relations one of the focal points of its presidency and will arrange a special EU-Russia summit in Moscow May 17.

"We have told the Russians that for us (the EU) to move forward and come in and finance environmental projects, Russia must make its payments in full and on time, otherwise there can be no prospects of further efforts on our behalf," Noreen said.

He said he was not aware of any outstanding Russian debt arrears to Sweden from January.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Kudrin was quoted as saying on Friday that Moscow planned to pay within a month half of the principal, $298 million, due in January.