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MILITARY

Did Russian jets carry nuclear weapons into Swedish airspace?

Swedish broadcaster TV4 reported on Wednesday that the Russian jets that violated Swedish airspace this month were carrying nuclear weapons. But defence experts in Sweden are sceptical.

Defence experts are sceptical about the statements that the Russian planes who flew in Swedish air space carried nuclear weapons.
Defence experts are sceptical about the statements that the Russian planes who flew in Swedish air space carried nuclear weapons. Photo: FLYGVAPNET/TT

According to an article published by TV4 on Wednesday, two of the Russian planes that had to be escorted away from airspace near Gotland on March 2nd were equipped with nuclear weapons. It was picked up by international newspapers such as the Daily Mail and the Evening Standard. 

According to anonymous sources quoted by the broadcaster, the pilots of the two Sukhoi 24 attack aircraft, which were accompanied by two Sukhoi 27 fighter jets, had made sure that the Swedish pilots could see the weapons. 

Although the Swedish Armed Forces would not comment on the information, Carl-Johan Edström, the head of Sweden’s airforce told the broadcaster that the incursion had been done deliberately to send a signal to Sweden. 

“We see it as a deliberate act, which is extremely serious when you consider that this is a country currently at war,” he told the broadcaster.

When contacted by the TT newswire on Thursday, Edström denied that Swedish pilots had seen nuclear weapons on the jets

“If we had an increased threat against Sweden which could be linked to this event or to other events we would have informed people about it,” he said. 

The Swedish Armed Forces has not yet commented on which weapons the planes were carrying. But defence experts told Sweden’s TT newswire they were sceptical of claims they were carrying nuclear weapons.

“My judgement from the pictures is that the planes look completely unarmed”, said expert Andreas Hörnedal from the Swedish Defence Research Agency. 

He said Kh-32 cruise missiles, which can be nuclear-armed, cannot anyway be carried on a Sukhoi 24. 

“These are huge missiles that weigh 5.5 tonnes and are carried on a different plane”, he said. “This was an obvious factual error, which, on the other hand, can happen when it comes to technological details”. 

It’s still unclear how the information reached TV4, but it could well have been Russian misinformation, Hörnedal told TT.

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MILITARY

IN PICS: The assault ship USS Kearsarge arrives in Stockholm

The USS Kearsarge, a 257-metre amphibious assault ship, arrived in Stockholm on June 2nd. It is in the region to take part in the Baltic Operations (Baltops) military exercise.

IN PICS: The assault ship USS Kearsarge arrives in Stockholm

The USS Kearsarge isn’t the only military vessel expected to arrive in Stockholm for this exercise – around 40 vessels from 13 nations will be arriving and mooring in the capital in the coming days.

Here’s a video showing the ship working its way through Oxdjupet, a strait between two islands in the Stockholm archipelago.

The Kearsarge will be in Stockholm until June 5th.

 

This is the 51st time the Baltops exercise has been held, with this year’s exercise including air defence, submarine detection, mine disposal, amphibious operations and medical exercises.

As well as Sweden, 16 other nations are taking part, with Sweden and Finland coordinating with members of the Nato alliance.

The military exercise is being held in parallel with celebration of the Swedish Navy’s 500th anniversary, and will end on June 17th.

The USS Kearsarge and a Djurgården ferry in Stockholm harbour. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
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