Swedes seek answers after alleged Stockholm submarine sighting

The Swedish corvette HMS Visby is seen in the search for suspected "foreign underwater activity" at Mysingen Bay, Stockholm, in this October 21, 2014 file photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 27 October 2018
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Swedes seek answers after alleged Stockholm submarine sighting

  • The military does not share Dagens Nyheter’s view that this was a foreign submarine,” Tengroth later told the newspaper
  • In October 2014, Sweden launched a massive hunt for a foreign submarine, suspected to be Russian, in the Stockholm archipelago over an eight-day period

STOCKHOLM: Swedish politicians were seeking answers Friday after reports emerged of a submarine sighting in Stockholm waters in June, which the military did not tell parliament’s defense committee about.
Newspaper of reference Dagens Nyheter reported late Thursday that three teenage instructors and children at a sailing camp in the suburb of Lidingo had spotted the mystery vessel on June 28.
For about 20 minutes, they observed what they believed to be a dark grey or black submarine near the surface and watched it sail away from where they were sailing dinghies.
The teens took photographs and a short video of the object, which Dagens Nyheter published on its website.
The Swedish military, which learned of the incident several days later by word of mouth, sent two officers on July 4 to question the teens, aged 17 and 18.
“We are confident about the measures we took when we received this information. But I can’t go into which measures were taken nor which conclusions were drawn,” Armed Forces spokesman Jesper Tengroth told AFP.
“The military does not share Dagens Nyheter’s view that this was a foreign submarine,” Tengroth later told the newspaper.
But he refused to say whether the military had identified the object, and if so, what it was.
Dagens Nyheter said neither the Swedish military nor civilian submarines were active in the area at the time of the sighting.
Swedish politicians expressed surprise that they had not been told of the possible incursion.
“We haven’t been informed of this previously. They’ve been sitting on this (information) for several months, they should have sorted out what this is all about,” Liberal lawmaker Allan Widman, a member of parliament’s defense committee, told Dagens Nyheter.
“We are of course going to make sure we get this information as soon as possible. Observations like this should be taken seriously,” conservative Moderates MP Beatrice Ask told news agency TT.
As a result, Tengroth said the military would inform lawmakers “relatively soon.”
Alleged submarine sightings are not uncommon in Sweden.

In October 2014, Sweden launched a massive hunt for a foreign submarine, suspected to be Russian, in the Stockholm archipelago over an eight-day period.
The military subsequently confirmed “a mini submarine” had violated its territorial waters, but was never able to establish the vessel’s nationality.
After years of massive military cutbacks in the post Cold War period, Sweden has in recent years hiked defense spending, much of it focused on upgrading capacity to detect and intercept submarines.
A non-NATO country, Sweden has also stepped up its military capabilities and exercises with the alliance, including the current Trident Juncture 18 exercises, amid signs of more assertive Russian behavior in the Baltic region.
That has included Russian planes occasionally skirting or violating the national air space of neighboring countries.


Vladimir Putin gets lavish welcome on visit to ally Serbia

Updated 17 January 2019
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Vladimir Putin gets lavish welcome on visit to ally Serbia

  • Church bells tolled, guns saluted and people waved Russian and Serbian flags on Putin’s route through the Serbian capital, Belgrade
  • Serbia has maintained close links with traditional Slavic ally Russia despite formally seeking European Union membership

BELGRADE, Serbia: Vladimir Putin received a hero’s welcome in ally Serbia on Thursday as the Russian president attempted to maintain political and economic influence in the Balkans, which is increasingly looking Westward.
Putin’s presidential plane was escorted over Serbian airspace by MiG-29 fighter jets he recently donated to Serbia as he arrived for the one-day visit. Church bells tolled, guns saluted and people waved Russian and Serbian flags on Putin’s route through the Serbian capital, Belgrade.
Serbia has maintained close links with traditional Slavic ally Russia despite formally seeking European Union membership. It has refused to join Western sanctions against Russia over Ukraine and has pledged to stay out of NATO.
Putin has recently stepped up efforts to restore Moscow’s influence in the former communist countries of Eastern Europe.
Putin and his host, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, praised the relationship between the two countries. Putin handed a top Russian honor to Vucic, who gave a puppy of a Serb dog breed to the Russian president.
Vucic thanked Russia for its support for Serbia’s claim over Kosovo, a former province that declared independence in 2008, and added that “however small,” Serbia has been a “reliable partner” to Russia.
Several bilateral agreements were signed, including on the supply of Russian gas and weapons to Serbia.
On the gas, Putin said Russian companies are ready to invest about $1.4 billion into a stretch of a pipeline that would go from Turkey via EU-member Bulgaria to Serbia and then on to Hungary, “but in the end, everything will depend on other countries, including the European Union.”
Putin’s visit come as thousands have been holding weekly demonstrations against Vucic because of what they see as his autocratic rule.
Tens of thousands of Vucic’s right-wing party supporters were bused into the capital on Thursday to gather in front of the St. Sava Orthodox church, which the two presidents visited. They were chanting slogans including “Serbia-Russia, we don’t need the European Union!“
Vucic’s critics say the gathering was staged to suggest that the Serbian leader has many more supporters than opponents, who have been marching the same route since December to demand free elections and media.
Several liberal Serbian rights groups issued a statement on Thursday protesting “glorification of Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian regime.”
It said that Putin’s visit “indicates that the Serbian rulers are ready to sacrifice human rights and better living standards of citizens because of their servile attitude toward Putin’s regime.”
Russia’s interest in Serbia relates to its strategic position between East and West. Of Serbia’s eight neighbors, five are NATO members and two more are seeking membership; and four are in the EU and two more are working toward accession. Serbia remains Moscow’s only ally in the region.
Unlike NATO, Putin formally does not oppose Serbia’s EU path and analysts believe that this is because he wants a staunch ally — or perhaps a Trojan horse — within the 28-nation bloc.
Putin’s popularity in Serbia is mostly because the Kremlin is supporting Serbia in its rejection of Kosovo’s independence. In contrast, most Western countries have recognized Kosovo’s statehood.