Russia's foreign ministry launches a misguided attack on Sweden's handling of a submarine sighting last year

Novorossiysk submarineOLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty ImagesRussian Novorossiysk submarine.

Over the weekend Rear Admiral Anders Grenstad confirmed to the press that the apparent sighting of a possible submarine in October 31, last year was in fact a civilian working boat, after close examination of pictures taken by a former naval officer.

In an extraordinary response to the revelations the Russian foreign ministry went on the attack, issuing a statement decrying “anti-Russian hysteria and propaganda” in Sweden’s response to the apparent sighting:

We could not help but notice the article in the Swedish media quoting Navy Rear Admiral A. Grenstad Sweden concerning the large-scale operation in Swedish territorial waters last Autumn to search for an unidentified foreign object underwater — allegedly a Russian submarine. In fact, as the Swedish Rear Admiral admitted, this object was a “technical ship.”

We would like to remind you that the representatives of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation from the outset rejected all insinuations Swedish side of the presence of Russian naval ships in the territorial waters of Sweden.

The unprecedented scale of the hunt for the Russian submarine was, therefore, nothing but a mindless waste of Swedish taxpayer money. This was done, it should be understood, for the sake of promotion of anti-Russian hysteria and propaganda “pumping” the myth of the “military threat” from the East.

Except that this isn’t what the Grenstad was saying at all. While the sighting on October 31 was dismissed, the Swedish military remains convinced that an incursions by a reconnaissance submarine into Swedish territorial waters did occur on October 17 and 24. He said: “The assessment that Swedish territory was violated in October 2014 remains correct in its entirety.”

Over 200 service personnel took part in the search for the submarine with the military deploying minesweepers, helicopters and an anti-submarine ship. At the time, Swedish intelligence reported intercepting encrypted messages that appeared to confirm the presence of at least one vessel, with another located in Kaliningrad, the base of Russia’s Baltic Fleet.

Moreover, the retired Swedish naval officer who took a picture of what he believed to be a Russian submarine in the waters around Stockholm has rejected claims that it was just a “civilian boat”.

Sven Olof Kviman told the newspaper Dagens Nyheter that it was “completely impossible that we have got this wrong”. He said:

“I saw the submarine above water: the bow, stern and tower. It is always difficult to determine the size, but it was around 20-30 metres long.”

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