Swedish motorists receive mystery air raid warning

Swedish motorists were left puzzled this week after mistakenly receiving an air raid warning, an incident authorities termed "serious" on Thursday given the war in Ukraine and Russia's irritation over Sweden's Nato bid.

Swedish motorists receive mystery air raid warning
Cars queue on the E4 motorway during the Easter weekend (this is just a file photo illustration). Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

“We are in the process of investigating how it happened”, a spokeswoman for the Swedish Transport Administration told AFP.

The alert was sent out on Wednesday on a so-called Traffic Message Channel, a system currently being phased out in Sweden that allows motorists to receive traffic updates via their car radio.

The message was sent out in the southern county of Blekinge, which is home to one of Sweden’s biggest air force bases.

“Important traffic message, Blekinge county: Air raid, danger”, appeared on vehicle dashboards, preceded by a danger triangle.

Media outlets then contacted the Transport Administration, informing it that the warning that had been sent out.

It was not immediately known how many motorists received the message. The Transport Administration said it knew “very little” about how it happened, but considered it “serious” given the current situation in the Nordic country and the war in Ukraine.

Moscow has reacted frostily to Sweden’s decision to abandon two centuries of military non-alliance and seek Nato membership following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

Russian military aircraft have violated Swedish airspace on several occasions this year before the country formally submitted its Nato application.

Sweden in 2018 reissued a wartime pamphlet to all households advising Swedes how to act in the event of a major crisis or conflict, despite the fact that the country has not experienced a war on its soil in more than 200 years.

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Swedish PM: Turkey’s election could delay Nato decision

Sweden's prime minister, Ulf Kristersson, has warned that Turkey's election could delay a decision on Sweden's Nato membership as diplomats from the two countries meet for talks on the issue.

Swedish PM: Turkey's election could delay Nato decision

“They have an election in the early summer and domestic politics plays a role in every country,” Kristersson said on Tuesday, shortly before the foreign ministers of Sweden, Finland and Turkey were due to meet in Bucharest. 

“We have had a very good dialogue recently,” Kristersson said, pointing to talks between the two sides in Stockholm on Friday. “This was the first time Turkey clearly expressed a view that Sweden is really delivering and carrying out what was agreed between Sweden, Finland and Turkey. That was a good sign.” 

Sweden’s prime minister Tobias Billström was due to meet his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Cavusoglu alongside Finland’s foreign minister Pekka Haavisto on Tuesday at a Nato meeting in Bucharest, Romania. 

Ahead of the meeting Billström sought to downplay expectations. 

“We are going to have an exchange of opinions, but when it comes down to it, this is about living up to the tripartite agreement which was signed at the Nato summit in Madrid between Sweden, Finland and Turkey,” he said as he arrived at the meeting. “We believe that we have come a long way towards fulfilling the points in the agreement.”

The summit was the first Nato event attended by a Swedish foreign minister leading the delegation of a so-called ‘invitee’ nation. 

“I’m extremely happy to be here and that I believe it will be a productive meeting,” Billström said.