Secret Swedish Cold War ops exposed

A top-secret Swedish air force unit with ties to NATO members Denmark and Norway operated through the Cold War and remained in operation until 1997, a new book reveals, casting fresh doubt over the country’s long-standing claims to neutrality.

Secret Swedish Cold War ops exposed

The secret entity, known as Air Force Unit 66, used a small fleet of civilian airplanes for operations that included transporting NATO operatives out of the country or depositing infiltrators along the Finnish border with the Soviet Union, Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet reported.

Documents accessed by the newspaper’s reporter Mikael Holmström, the author of a new book about Sweden’s secret NATO links, show that the clandestine air force unit was a well-organized group consisting of a team of commanders, pilots and ground staff.

The unit received protection from the Swedish Security Service (Säkerhetspolisen – Säpo), and operatives were paid in cash in order to avoid a paper trail. The tax authorities received their due share in advance.

The head of the formation, using the code name Jan Danielsson, confirmed the existence of Unit 66.

“We carried out flights, exercises, and reconnaissance both in Sweden and in our neighbouring countries,” he told the author of the ‘The Secret Alliance’.

The unit used four-seater Cessna 182 and six-seater Cessna 206 planes, Svenska Dagbladet reported. As many of its operation were performed under the cover of darkness, the pilots were trained to land in difficult terrain with only flashlights to guide them.

Funding for the unit ran out in 1998 and the last planned operation was cancelled that year. The unit then ceased to operate, Holmström found.

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Turkey calls for ‘concrete steps’ before backing Sweden Nato bid

Turkey said on Wednesday Sweden's new government was more determined to address Ankara's security concerns in return for Nato membership but called for "concrete steps".

Turkey calls for 'concrete steps' before backing Sweden Nato bid

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met with his Swedish and Finnish counterparts on the sidelines of a NATO gathering in Bucharest on Tuesday.

Ankara has accused the two Nordic nations — especially Stockholm — of providing a safe haven for outlawed Kurdish groups it deems “terrorists” and held back on ratifying their Nato bids despite an agreement in Madrid in June.

“The statements (coming out of Sweden) are good, the determination is good but we need to see concrete steps,” Cavusoglu told reporters in Bucharest. “We told them we haven’t seen concrete steps on these issues”.

The progress included the most vexed issue of extradition of criminals and the freezing of terror assets, Cavusoglu said.

Sweden’s Foreign Minister Tobias Billström spoke optimistically about Tuesday’s meeting.

“I have to say that I felt after this meeting that yes, there is progress in line,” he said.”We are moving forward with the implementation of a trilateral memorandum which was signed in Madrid.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also sounded upbeat, saying he was confident that Sweden and Finland would “soon” join Nato.

“Turkey, Sweden and Finland are engaging directly as well as with Nato to make sure that Turkey’s concerns are fully addressed, including concerns about its security,” he said. “That process has been moving, moving forward. And I’m very confident and
again, based on what I’ve heard these last couple of days, that Finland and Sweden will soon be formally new members of the alliance.”

Finland and Sweden dropped decades of military non-alignment and scrambled to become Nato members in May, after Russia invaded Ukraine.

The decision requires a consensus within the US-led defence alliance, but only Turkey and Hungary are yet to give consent to their membership.