Moscow’s military taunts vex Sweden, Finland

Three times this year Russian armed forces have behaved in blatant provocations against Swedish airforce jets and Finnish research vessels in neutral international waters and skies near the Baltic sea island of Gotland, reported military news portal Sargs.lv Monday.

Most recently, exactly a month apart on September and August 2, Finnish hydrological research vessel Aranda, owned by state Environmental Institute SYKE was conducting measurements for Sweden’s Institute of Meteo- and Hydrology when it was harassed by Russian ships and helicopters, respectively on the two separate occasions.

In the August incident a radio message from a Russian warship instructed the Aranda to change course, however the research ship succeeded upon its second attempt to head for its contracted destination despite the appearance of an additional submarine surfacing in pace nearby.

A month later a military helicopter approached the Aranda several times, after which a nearby warship took a direct course upon the Finnish vessel and skirted its course, however did not intimidate it into changing course.

During both incidents the Finnish crew and Swedish weather scientists were on the deck, feeling rather threatened, reported Sargs.

Finland’s Defense ministry announced that the intervention of Russian armed ships into its research activities was illegal and unacceptable, requiring an explanation.

A similar announcement came also from the Swedish Foreign ministry, promising to take appropriate diplomatic action.

Finland’s media reported that the warship involved was the Stereguschiy-class corvette Boikiy, a state-of-the-art warship launched in spring 2013. Its design thwarts radar detection, but holds a 100-strong crew and a helicopter, as noted by those aboard the Aranda.

As reported, on August 3 two Russian warships and one of the same class of corvette were spotted near Latvia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) by the NBS naval ship Rezekne, followed by the sighting of a Kilo-class submarine that same day.

Whereas the Boikiy was seen near Latvia’s territorial waters on the night from August 31 to September 1.

Indeed, just last Friday, on the night of October 10 Russian ships were spotted again 14.4 nautical miles from national maritime borders, the first a Bereza-class, the second a Gorin-class ship, tweeted the Natonal Armed Forces (NBS).

In addition to that, however, on October 2 Sargs reported that the routine flights of Swedish air force Gulfstream electronic surveillance planes were dangerously buzzed by a Russian interceptor on July 16 over the waters between Gotland and Latvia.

On that day a Russian SU-27, armed with six air-to-air missiles, intercepted two of the Swedish electronic surveillance craft and turned its rockets directly at one of them, flying as close as 11 meters in proximity to its target.

Swedish military experts admit that while there was no risk of collision by such seemingly reckless stunt-piloting, such behavior as demonstrated by the Russian flyers had not been seen before. One notes that international aviation procedures call for interceptors to fly no closer than 50-150 meters from the other plane.

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