Stockholm — Sweden's relations with the Soviet Union have been sinking ever since the Soviet Whiskey-class submarine went aground Oct. 27 off the main southern naval base at Karlskrona last year.
Thus when Sweden handed the Soviets the bill March 25 for salvaging the sub, it had been drastically pared down. The original bill ran to 5.2 million kronor ($888,680), but the Swedes charged only 1.6 million kronor ($212,000) in hopes of patching things up with Moscow.
And lately there is much needing patching:
* The Soviets have lodged a formal protest to the Swedes over the refusal of a visa to Nikolai Nejland, vice-foreign minister of the Soviet Republic of Latvia.
Mr. Nejland, who for more than seven years was chief of the Soviet news agency's bureau in Stockholm, was refused permission to play tennis as part of the Soviet Davis Cup team in February.
The refusal was on the recommendation of the Swedish security police, who accused Nejland of using his position in Sweden to spread communist propaganda and to purchase influence in high places.
* Swedish Supreme Commander Gen. Lannart Ljung presented to the government new proposals for combating submarine incursions into Swedish waters.
He is thought to be asking for a change in regulations to permit direct depth charging of submarines with a new, mini depth charge designed to blast holes in a sub, forcing it to the surface, without injuring the crew.
Present regulations stipulate that depth charges may be set in the general vicinity of foreign submarines in Swedish waters, but they may not be bombed directly.
* Negotiations over a 13,500 square kilometer triangle of sea off the Swedish Baltic island of Gotland is also causing friction. The area is rich in fish, and the sea bed is believed to contain valuable oil deposits.
Negotiations on sovereignty have continued for 13 years without agreement being reached.
Foreign Minister Ola Ullsten this week promised worried fishermen on the island that no major concessions would be made to the Soviets when talks on the disputed area resume.