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Swedish military leaks concern defence minister

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Swedish military leaks concern defence minister
16:04 CEST+02:00
Sweden's Defence Minister has lashed out at sources leaking classified military documents about the country's readiness capacity, after two close Russian fly-bys were revealed in recent days.

"I have personally told the Armed Forces (Försvarsmaketen) that I am worried," Karin Enström told the TT news agency, without specifying which information that had appeared in the last week concerned her the most.

Since the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) military correspondent revealed that Swedish fighter jets had not responded when Russian bombers came in near the Baltic island Gotland at Easter, Swedish talking heads have butted heads about Sweden's air defences.

Sveriges Television (SVT) recently reported that the fleet of Jas Gripen fighter jets could only take off at certain times of the day. If the planes are needed immediately, rapid response is only an option 60 hours a week, SVT reported.

"What worries me the most is that we currently have a debate where a lot of sensitive information is reaching the media, and I think that is unfortunate," Enström said on Friday.

"We should not talk about these details openly, especially not so other countries and other players get to know what our incident preparedness looks like."

Armed Forces spokesman Erik Lagersten told TT that while they would look into the matter, there was complex legislation to take into account concerning free speech and free press.

"It is too early to say what measures we will take," Lagersten said.

Cecilia Widegren, deputy head of the parliamentary committee on defence, said that she "expected more respect from the Armed Forces" than to have classified information seep out of the organization.

Others downplayed the severity of the information seeing the light of day. Stefan Ring, a military strategy expert, told TT the readiness information was not as sensitive as people may think.

"If the question is whether this was important knowledge for the Russian, then my answer is no," he said.

"If this type of information creates such a debate, maybe the politicians need to ask themselves how they chose to communicate with the Swedish people."

Ring estimated that many Swedes still think of the Armed Forces as they were during the Cold War, adding that Swedish politicians had been bad at explaining the changing geopolitical landscape.

TT/The Local/at

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