Sweden hit international headlines in October last year when it launched the biggest military underwater operation in recent years after it spotted a foreign submarine in Swedish waters. The vessel was widely thought to be Russian, although the Swedish military was unable to confirm where it came from – or indeed locate it.
The country's ability to defend itself should Russia increase military activity in the Baltic remains a hot topic in the Swedish media, after the centre-left government announced a new 10.2 billion kronor ($111.9 million) defence deal designed to increase the country's capabilities. Just last week a British defence expert told The Local that a Russian attack on the Nordic nation “could come soon”.
But the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society (SPAS) believes there are more efficient ways to fend off Russians than military force. In a video published on their website on Monday, they demonstrate their new 'Singing Sailor Underwater Defence System', which they lowered into the sea east of Stockholm on April 27th.
Any submarines lurking in the capital's waters will come across an animated neon sign of a dancing sailor in boxer shorts along with the message “Sweden – gay since 1944” (referring to when Sweden legalized homosexuality). The sign also sends out the Morse code: “This way if you are gay”.
The tongue-in-cheek move is designed to scare off military vessels from Russia, which does not share Sweden's tolerant attitude to homosexuality.
Russia recently sparked an outcry in the Nordic nation when it approved controversial legislation outlawing “propaganda” directed at minors about “non-traditional sexual relations”.
“If there is a submarine down there beneath the Baltic waves and the crew should happen to see or hear the Singing Sailor they are welcome to join us in the Stockholm Pride Parade on August 1st,” Daniel Holking, SPAS communications and fundraising manager, said in a statement.
“In times of unrest, love and peace across boundaries is more important than ever. We want to break up with the violence. Our invitation is also extended to Swedish subs and military personnel and all others that want to join us,” he added.
The Singing Sailor being lowered into the sea. Photo: bsmart.se/SPAS
On a more serious note, the organization – which believes that military rearmament is a contributing cause of conflict – added in Monday's press release that 'The Singing Sailor' is also a call for Sweden to shift its military resources into “development and rethinking security”.
“If military actions and weapons had functioned as conflict resolution methods there would be peace in the world a long time ago,” Anna Ek, SPAS president said.
In March, Sweden's Security Service Säpo said that the biggest intelligence threat against Sweden came from Russia in 2014. Its annual report described Russian espionage against Sweden as “extensive”, noting that it had increased in connection with the Ukraine crisis.