The head of Sweden's Armed Forces Sverker Göranson spoke to the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper on his last day on the job before handing over to his successor Micael Bydén on Thursday.
In the interview, he talked about Sweden's widely publicized naval search operation between October 17th and 24th last year after a suspected foreign mini-sub in the Stockholm archipelago.
The submarine was never found, but Göranson insisted on Thursday that his certainty that foreign powers violated Swedish waters had only grown in the past year – despite the futile search operation being widely ridiculed as a failure by several foreign media outlets.
“I am completely sure that Sweden was violated in October. I am even more convinced today than I was then. The final analysis we have now carried out is broader and much deeper,” he told DN.
Sverker Göranson, right, with his successor Micael Bydén. Photo: Lars Pehrson/SvD/TT
The search was Sweden's most extensive submarine hunt since the Cold War, but no military or defence officials have ever elaborated on the reasons why they remain so convinced that an incursion took place.
However, on Göranson revealed that indications of a foreign power operating in Sweden had been found on land as well as in the waters outside Stockholm.
“It's a number of events on the ground. Both our own units and the police have contributed and we have analyzed them together,” he told Dagens Nyheter.
“We have also made discoveries both on land and in water. They can't be tied to a foreign power, but it is possible that they are being used by foreign powers. But I won't elaborate on what it is, because if a foreign power has put them there they should not know what or where we have found them,” he said.
Although no Swedish official ever identified the nationality of the elusive mini-sub, experts widely believed it to be Russian. Earlier this year the Swedish security services, Säpo, said that the country had posed the biggest intelligence threat to Sweden in the past year.
The failure to locate the vessel raised questions over the non-aligned country's military capabilities after years of cutbacks in the post-Cold War era.