Sweden conducted a week long naval surveillance mission for a possible Russian submarine from October 16-25, 2014. Civilians spotted the craft, likely a Russian Piranha or Triton Class, near the Stockholm Archipelago on October 17. Swedish SIGINT intercepted a Russian radio signals from the Stockholm Archipelago to Kaliningrad, the base of operations for Russia’s Baltic Fleet on October 16. Swedish destroyers and corvettes were authorized to use force to compel the submarine to surface on Tuesday, as the military launched its largest mobilization since the Cold War. The search efforts were called off on October 25, 2014.
The response of the Swedish Government and Russian Government fit into the current context of what one could construe as President Vladimir Putin’s ultranationalist-expansionist foreign policy. The Kremlin has denied any association with the incident, and suggested that the submarine might be Dutch in origin. If the submarine was Russian, it would allow Putin to project his power or to stage a provocation with the Swedish military. Previously, he has attempted to violate the Nordic countries’ airspace with brief aerial forays. On the other hand, the Swedish military did not accomplish its objective of finding and fixing the submarine. This failure may lead to outcries for an increased Swedish defense budget, which has decreased from a projected 4.3% to 3.1% increase for FY 2015, especially in the nascent wake of Prime Minister Stefan Lofven’s Green and Social Democrat government. This incident may also allow NATO to foster a closer relationship with Sweden and Finland, who are not members of the defensive alliance but conduct training exercises with the Partnership for Peace Program. Thus, the U.S. IC should watch 1) possible future provocations with Russian military forces, 2) the increase of the Swedish defense budget, and 3) NATO’s amicability with the Nordic countries.
BBC. “What was lurking in Sweden’s waters?” October 24, 2014.
BI. “Sweden’s Epic Hunt For A ‘Russian’ Sub Shows Europe Is Terrified Of Putin.” October 24, 2014.
Euronews. “Mysterious vessel caught on camera as Sweden hunts for foreign submarine.” October 19, 2014.
FP. “Sweden’s Military Calls Sub’s Breach of Waters ‘Fucked Up’.” October 21, 2014.
The Guardian. “Swedish armed forces widen hunt for suspected submarine.” October 20, 2014.