According to the Guardian, Sweden had made no request to the US, Britain or NATO for assistance in finding the object. The paper quotes Therese Fagerstedt, a Swedish military press officer, who the paper says did not accuse Russia, saying there had been no confirmation yet of which country was involved. But most fingers in the West are pointing at Russia.
On Saturday, a Swedish newspaper reported that intelligence officials had picked up a distress call on a frequency used by Russians. However, Moscow has strongly denied having a stranded vessel in Swedish waters, suggesting it could have been a Dutch sub on manoeuvres in Swedish waters, a suggestion dismissed by the Dutch. In the days of the Cold War, the Swedish Navy on several occasions cried wolf claiming it had detected foreign submarines, admitting later that the underwater sounds had been made by minks or otters.
This time, according to Swedish daily SvD Nyheter, the military had knowingly provided misleading information to the press about the location of the suspect object, claiming they did not want to give away too much information to the other side.
A shoal of red herring
Perhaps unsurprisingly the paper published a photo caricature of the story. And social media commentators suggested the culprit was not a foreign submarine but a “shoal of farting herring.”
Western politicians and the media have been extrapolating the Ukraine crisis onto the Baltic, claiming that the next objects of Russian interest would be its littoral states. To support this allegation a lot is being made of Russia modernising its armed forces, as if other countries never do this. NATO has been constantly modernising its forces, and recently announced that it was creating a new 4,000-strong rapid reaction force for deployment close to Russian borders.
Interesting that all Russian protestations about NATO’s expansion towards its borders have always been dismissed by the West as Moscow’s paranoia. Rather, it looks like this particular disease is now afflicting countries who had staunchly defended their neutrality even at the height of the Cold War.
There have been suggestions in the West that the alleged “Russian” incursion was designed to test the waters with Sweden's new centre-left government, elected last month. The mysterious object off the coast of Stockholm, of which we have been shown some grainy indistinct pictures, may be a “game changer” in the security of the Baltic, the Latvian Foreign Minister tweeted. So could this be somebody else’s ruse to push Sweden closer to NATO?