Amid talks of Sweden’s possible NATO membership, a Russian reconnaissance plane entered the Scandinavian country’s airspace without permission. The Swedish Ministry of Defense spoke of a “completely unacceptable” incident. Danish airspace has also been breached, and Copenhagen, like Stockholm before it, announced diplomatic measures on Sunday.
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The Russian plane was initially east of the Danish island of Bornholm on Friday evening and from there entered Swedish airspace, the Swedish military said. The propeller plane was observed and photographed.
Danish Foreign Minister summons Russian Ambassador
Especially in view of the “general security situation”, the violation of airspace was “very inappropriate”, Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist said, according to the SVT television channel. His country would file a protest through diplomatic channels. “Sweden’s sovereignty must always be respected.” In early March, four Russian fighter jets briefly violated Swedish airspace.
Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod announced on Sunday that Danish airspace was briefly violated by the Russian plane on Friday evening. The Russian ambassador was therefore summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Monday. “This is completely unacceptable and particularly worrying in the current situation.”
A Danish Foreign Ministry spokesman told AFP news agency that the Russian craft was a reconnaissance aircraft. “Two Danish F-16s immediately took off.”
Sweden plans to join NATO
The new incident came at a time when Sweden, like Finland, was intensively discussing NATO membership in view of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. In theory, the heads of state and government of the 30 NATO countries could already discuss possible applications for membership in the near future during their summit in Madrid at the end of June. Russia has repeatedly warned of the “consequences” of such an enlargement of NATO.
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said on Sunday that her country would not take the decision lightly. “We have been non-aligned for 200 years and it has served us well,” she told reporters. “A decision should not be taken lightly.” A possible candidacy for NATO is “a very, very difficult question which requires in-depth analysis”, underlined the Prime Minister.
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Unlike Denmark, Sweden, like Finland, is not a member of NATO, but acts as a close partner in the military alliance in Scandinavia. According to a new poll published on Saturday, 54% of Swedes are in favor of joining NATO. For decades before the Russian military operation in Ukraine, it was only 20-25%.
Andersson’s ruling Social Democrats have so far been seen as proponents of Swedish alliance neutrality. At the end of March, however, the prime minister said she was in no way ruling out membership. The Social Democrats want to decide their future position by May 24. (AFP)