Two Russian bomber planes that were allegedly spotted east of the Swedish island of Gotland on Saturday were intercepted by Sweden’s fighter jets to monitor the activities of the bomber aircraft.
“Two Jas Gripen planes followed the planes and monitored them,” said Marie Tisater, an officer of the Swedish Armed Forces, according to The Local news website.
The Swedish Armed Forces said that the planes did not breach Sweden’s airspace, and without disclosing much information, mentioned that other nations deployed aircrafts to monitor the bombers as well.
“It is our task to keep track of what is happening in our neighbourhood. It is not a serious event but something that happens quite often. We often help with other countries’ operations in the Baltic Sea and they also help us,” said Tisater.
On June 26, Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist announced that Sweden is boosting its military presence along its border as well as increasing its participation in a military exercise with NATO due to concerns over Russia’s military resurgence.
Sweden’s decision to boost military precautions came after a report by Edward Lucas, who writers for the US-based Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) and is a former correspondent for the Economist newspaper, stated that Russia rehearsed invasion exercises in the Baltics.
According to the report compiled by Lucas, also known as The Coming Storm, Russia “rehearsed the invasion and occupation of the Baltic region with 33,000 soldiers from March 21 to March 25.”
Lucas claimed that Russia rehearsed the invasion of not only Sweden’s east coast island of Gotland, but also the Danish island Bornholm and Finland’s Swedish speaking Aland island as well as northern Norway.
Earlier this spring, Russia was accused of deliberately chasing away a Swedish vessel with warships as the vessel was sent to the Baltic Sea to lay undersea power cables between Lithuania and Sweden.
The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry in a statement said that a naval vessel member of the Russian Northern Fleet forced a Swedish vessel to abandon its work four times between March 29 and April 30 while it was overseeing the deployment of the 400-kilometre cable in Lithuanian waters.
In October 2014, a large scale military operation by Sweden was conducted in waters off Stockholm in an effort to search for “foreign underwater activity,” widely speculated to be caused by a damaged Russian submarine, in what might have been the gravest violation of Sweden’s maritime sovereignty since the Cold War.
Since 1814 Sweden has maintained an official policy of neutrality in foreign affairs, including throughout both world wars. At the end of the Cold War, Sweden became a member of the European Union but did not join NATO.
Although Sweden is not a NATO member, it participates in two other military alliances: The Nordic Defense Cooperation alongside Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Norway, and the EU Nordic Battlegroup alongside Finland, Norway, Ireland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.