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Sweden accuses Russian spy plane of violating airspace

A Russian reconnaissance plane briefly violated Sweden's airspace on Friday, Swedish defence officials said on Saturday, as the country considers its bid for NATO membership after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian propeller plane of the type AN-30 that violated Swedish airspace on April 29, photographed by Swedish fighter planes.
The Russian propeller plane of the type AN-30 that violated Swedish airspace on April 29, photographed by Swedish fighter planes. Photo credit: Swedish Armed Forces via TT.

“A Russian AN-30 propeller plane violated Swedish airspace on Friday evening,” the Swedish defence ministry said in a statement, adding that its teams had followed the incident and photographed it.

The ministry said the plane was flying east of Bornholm, a Danish island in the Baltic, before it headed towards Swedish territory.

“It is totally unacceptable to violate Swedish airspace,” SVT quoted Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist as saying.

“This action is unprofessional and given the general security situation, very inappropriate. Swedish sovereignty must always be respected.”

Carl-Johan Edström, air force chief, also told SVT  that they had followed the plane for a long time.

“I think it is irresponsible and unprofessional to fly so close to a country’s borders with military aircraft. There is no reason to fly so close that you can accidentally enter a country’s territory, you may well be 10-15 kilometres from the border, then things like this do not have to happen”, Edström said.

At the beginning of March, four Russian fighter jets violated Swedish airspace, when they flew over the sea east of Gotland.

Sweden and Finland have agreed to both announce their intention to join Nato in the week beginning May 16th, newspapers in the two countries have reported.

According to both Iltalehti and Expressen, two tabloid newspapers from Finland and Sweden respectively, Sweden’s government has asked for Finland to delay their announcement so that the two countries can announce their intention to join simultaneously, 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to Sweden debating Nato membership, overturning the non-aligned security policy which has been at the centre of Social Democrat foreign politics since the 1930s. 

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NATO

Erdogan signals no progress on Sweden’s NATO bid

Erdogan signalled on Saturday that no progress had been made in Sweden's bid to join NATO, urging Stockholm to take "concrete actions" to meet Ankara's concerns, his office said.

Erdogan signals no progress on Sweden's NATO bid

In a phone call with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, Erdogan reiterated that “Sweden should take steps regarding such fundamental matters as combatting terrorism”, the Turkish presidency said in a statement.

Turkey “wanted to see binding commitments on these issues together with concrete and clear action,” he added.

Finland and Sweden discussed their stalled NATO bids with Turkey in Brussels on Monday, but Ankara dampened hopes that their dispute will be resolved before an alliance summit next week.

Turkish officials said Ankara does not view the summit as a final deadline for resolving Ankara’s objections. Ankara has accused Finland and in particular Sweden of providing a safe haven for outlawed Kurdish militants whose decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Erdogan told Andersson that Sweden “should make concrete changes in its attitude” toward the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its Syrian affiliates, the presidency said.

“In this regard no tangible action aimed at addressing Turkey’s concerns was seen to have been taken by Sweden”, it added.

READ ALSO: Hopes fade for Sweden’s swift Nato accession

The Turkish leader also voiced expectations that Sweden would lift an arms embargo against Turkey that Stockholm imposed in 2019 over Ankara’s military offensive in Syria.

He also said he hopes that restrictions on Turkey’s defence industry would be lifted, and that Sweden will extradite several people Ankara has accused of involvement in terrorism.

The phone call comes after Erdogan discussed the two countries’ bid with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg. Erdogan also told Stoltenberg that “Sweden and Finland should take concrete and sincere steps” against outlawed Kurdish militants, the presidency said.

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