By Brett Daniel Shehadey
Special Contributor for In Homeland Security
It was reported that Swedish navy vessels located a Russian submarine in their national waters. Reports and official language has been corrected from emphasizing ‘Russian’ to stressing ‘foreign’ underwater vessel that is hiding or lurking in Swedish waters. Violating a state’s waters is considered a hostile act but there is more going on here that is silent, due to “operational secrecy.”
“We don’t know what it is. [We] are prepared to use anything necessary to bring the vessel to the surface if we need to,” said Swedish military spokeswoman Therese Fagerstedt on Thursday.
Earlier that day, Swedish intelligence picked up an emergency Russian radio signal. It has been suspected that the submarine may be damaged. Swedish Royal Academy of War Sciences, Johan Wiktorin suggested that the vessel could be conducting intelligence operations, installing sensors, testing defenses and capabilities or even mapping waters. Don’t rule out the favorite Russian past-time of intimidation.
Other possibilities were mentioned by ex-Swedish marine attaché to Moscow, Christian Allerman: “They’re searching either for divers or diving vessels … small submarines or possibly a conventional submarine in the 60 to 70-metre class. The latter is less likely.”
There is also a Russian-owned Liberian oil tanker possibly associated with the incident that navigated in and out of Swedish waters. It is possible that it is more than one sub and that other elements of surface ships or a small territorial breach was in effect. Land forces were also scattered throughout the archipelago. The army released a picture of a sub on Sunday.
“Time is on our side,” Rear Admiral Anders Grenstad, deputy chief of operations at the Swedish Armed Forces, informed the press yesterday at a conference in Stockholm. Stealth warships, minesweepers and helicopters are searching for the ‘foreign vessel.’
On Sunday, Russia denied any involvement or that it had a submarine there. Several incursions of Swedish waters by Russian vessels have been on-going for the past five years but this one was highly publicized by the government, said Niklas Granholm, a senior analyst at Sweden’s governmental Defense Research Agency.
The “underwater activity,” as officials in Sweden have labeled it, is a really big deal. The biggest mobilization of its military since the Cold War.
Armed Forces Supreme Commander Sverker Goeransson said, “In the last few years, not least in connection to Russian military reform and Russian leadership,” the period of stability “has changed. This is made “obvious during this current year. There’s logic and a connection to intelligence operations, both toward us and others.”
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said, “There is no submarine hunt underway,” and labeled military efforts as “intelligence gathering.”
Swedish Admiral Grenstad also stated, “I want to stress again that this is not a U-boat hunting operation which has the aim of bringing down an opponent with military might.” The comment was made to the “foreign” parties involved, that the cat-and-mouse Soviet era games were unwelcome and not intended by the Swedish government.
Nevertheless, the Swedish Armed Forces had made earlier statements that they would not tolerate foreign underwater activity in their shores and sea. And the truth is that they are ‘hunting’ for something in the water. Whether or not that leads to a ‘catch-and-release’ or ‘blow them out of the water’ remains to be seen and will depend on the nature of the encounter.
In any case, Russian military activity is putting the whole of Europe on edge. Sweden is the latest to raise defense spending, just announced today. America is in full support; particularly because it needs them to help cover the costs. Sweden defense spending was around $6 billion in 2013. Meanwhile, Russian military spending is the third largest in the world and has increased almost 200 percent, from $35 billion in 1999 to almost $100 billion in 2014.
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