By James Krotz
For over a week, the Royal Swedish Navy and Air Force have been frantically looking for a suspected Russian submarine in Ingaro Bay, the main port approach to the wharves of Stockholm. On Thursday, the search was finally called off, ending the largest Swedish naval operation since the end of the Cold War, according to Swedish Rear Admiral Anders Grenstad.
The Russian defense ministry issued a statement, saying that “There have been no extraordinary, let alone emergency situations, involving Russian military vessels.”
The search comes at a time of high tension between North American and European nations and Russia, in light of the summer crisis in Ukraine, where pro-Russian militants and suspected Russian heavy equipment clashed with Ukrainian army and police forces.
There have also been two incidents of Russian aircraft violating U.S., Canadian, and Estonian airspace according to NORAD and NATO sources.
In the meantime, Sweden would do well to revisit its sonar and submarine detection capabilities. Sweden, while not a part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, has signed a pact with the alliance on September 5th, allowing it to engage in joint training exercises and receive assistance from NATO troops in emergencies.
Sweden, who has maintained strict neutrality in every war since the Napoleonic Wars in the early 1800’s, should perhaps revisit NATO membership. Along with Finland, these two new Scandinavian members could ratchet up the pressure on Russia and force it to rethink its aggressive strategy.