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Swedish Report Suggests 2014 'Russian Sub' Gaffe Was Milked for Defence Allotments

© AP Photo / Henrik MontgomerySwedish submarine HMS Halland (File)
Swedish submarine HMS Halland (File) - Sputnik International
In retrospect, the “Russian submarine” that allegedly wreaked havoc in the Stockholm archipelago in 2014 turned out to be a “man-made Swedish object”, this embarrassing situation was described by a Swedish pundit and author as a “political meltdown”.

Five years after Operation Eagle, as Sweden's painfully unsuccessful submarine hunt was formally named, Svenska Dagbladet, one of the nation's leading dailies, published yet another investigation into the matter by journalist Jonas Gummesson.

What Sweden's former Supreme Commander Sverker Göransson initially described as a "confirmed violation of Swedish waters by a small submarine" before unleashing a costly operation during which suspicions were groundlessly directed at Russia, turned out to be preliminary data, later proving erroneous.

"When conducting an underwater investigation, and the task is to confirm or reject a unique sound recording, it is a pervasive process. It usually takes a long time to get it in place. Then, however, things went very fast. The analyses were not completed. The criteria for a confirmed submarine are rock hard, and they were not fulfilled", an anonymous insider with insight into the process told Svenska Dagbladet.

While the "confirmed submarine" later turned out to be an unspecified "man-made Swedish object", four months passed between the moment when Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist was briefed, and the moment the revelation was passed on to parliament. Both a Swedish and a foreign submarine were dismissed at an early stage of the investigation, the source said. While a 100-page final report that spelt Supreme Commander Sverker Göransson's downfall took months to compile, new allotments for the armed forces were clubbed by the centre-left government in the meantime.

According to Gummesson, the reason for the unjustified level of certainty was political. There was a certain pressure to deliver a result from the submarine chase, he stressed.

"There were proposals from the government and certain parts of the headquarters", Svenska Dagbladet's source said.

"The most likely is that it is a foreign intelligence operation and that Russia is behind it", a typical flawed analysis of the situation by Lund University professor of intelligence analysis Vilhelm Agrell said.

Mattias Göransson, the author of the book "The Bear Comes", which details previously suspected submarine violations that in hindsight proved to be something else, such as minks or shoals of fish, minced no words about the 2014 submarine chase, calling it a "political meltdown". According to him, the Swedish media had "about ten thousand chances" to learn to be more critical of claims of foreign powers' submarines in Swedish waters.

"Over the past 40 years, about the same number of underwater intrusions were reported by the population. Despite this, the Navy has failed to present a single bit of sustainable proof of a single conscious Russian submarine infringement", Göransson told the news outlet Nyheter Idag.

While the 2014 chase in the Stockholm archipelago also ended in a bitter fiasco, it resulted in defence allocations and re-ignited the debate on whether Sweden should abandon its policy of non-alignment and join NATO, being unable to defend itself on its own.

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