Elements of the Swedish Navy spent the weekend searching for evidence of “foreign underwater activity,” following a Friday announcement from the Swedish Ministry of Defense, ahead of two days of naval maneuvers around the Stockholm archipelago.
Reports from Swedish press outlets have suggested the object is a damaged Soviet submarine, with one report in newspaper Svenska Dagbladet claiming to have intercepted a distress call in Russian.
The Swedish Ministry of Defense did not confirm any of the reports.
Russia defense officials have denied involvement in the incident.
“On Sunday the Russian Defense Ministry provided whatever aid it could to the Swedes in their futile search,” a Russian Ministry of Defense source told the state controlled Russia Today on Monday.
The source pointed the finger at the Dutch Navy and the service’s HNLMS Bruinvis Walrus-class diesel electric attack boat recently in the region for a series of exercises.
“Hopefully, this report will help the Swedish Navy locate it as it travels back to one of the Dutch naval bases,” the source told RT.
The Swedish government has been vague about the nature of the underwater activity and releasing an image of the object that only reveals whatever the object is, it is easily in Swedish territorial waters.
“We have said it’s foreign underwater activity, and until we have caught something or get photo evidence, it will continue to be foreign underwater activity until we know what nation it is,”
Rear Adm. Anders Grenstad told reporters.
“’It could be a submarine, or a smaller submarine… It could be divers using some form of moped-like underwater vehicle and it could be divers that do not have any business on our territory.”
The Swedish Navy deployed costal riverine patrol craft, minesweepers and at least one Visby-class corvette to conduct the search around the Stockholm area.
The search is reminiscent of similar Swedish-Russian standoffs during the height of the Cold War.
Swedish was neutral during the era but had several run-ins with Russian submarines operating in the Baltic.
During one particularly dramatic instance in 1981 a Russian sub was hung-up on rocks in Swedish territorial waters prompting a diplomatic standoff that lasted almost two weeks.