Russian jets practised attacks on Sweden
Published: 22 Apr 2013 08:41 GMT+02:00
Updated: 22 Apr 2013 08:41 GMT+02:00
Russian fighter planes carried out training missions just outside the Swedish border over Easter; Sweden's military, however, was too slow to react and had to rely on help from Nato, the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper (SvD) revealed on Monday.
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The aircraft included two heavy Tu-22M3 bombers (referred to as Backfires by Nato) which were flanked by four jet fighter escorts.
The planes flew from Saint Petersburg after midnight on March 29th, and headed past the eastern edge of Stockholm's archipelago. Usually, Russian jets continue such exercises by heading south towards Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave between Lithuania and Poland
However, in the early hours of Good Friday this year, the jets headed towards Sweden and flew over Gotska Sandön, an uninhabited Swedish island in the Baltic Sea. The planes were training for military attacks, information which had been kept secret from the public until Monday's report by SvD.
According to SvD's military sources, the planes were simulating attacks against Stockholm and somewhere in the south of Sweden.
No Swedish planes were prepared to meet the Russians and ward them off; however, jets from Nato in Lithuania and from Denmark were quick to respond, with two Lithuanian aircraft sent to shadow the Russian planes at a distance.
The Swedish Air Force did not deny the incident.
"I can confirm that there were two bombers - Tu-22 with Su-27 fighter escorts. They remained in international airspace at Gotska Sandön and carried out some form of exercise. Then they turned back the way they had come," Lieutenant-General Anders Silwer of the Armed Forces mission command told SvD.
In terms of Sweden's response, he added that the air force was "normally well prepared."
The incident occurred just two months after Defence Minister Karin Enström discussed Sweden's state of readiness policy in a speech.
"Safety, crisis preparations, and defence policy aim to be ready for the unpredictable all the time, around the clock," she said at the time.