Sweden rethinks neutrality

Things like this are making Sweden rethink its neutrality:

The Russian planes flew above southern parts of the Baltic Sea and east of Gotland.

A military spokesman told The Local that the planes had stayed in international airspace and that the Swedish air force had followed them only to inspect them more closely.

The past year has been one of heightened tensions between Sweden and its eastern neighbour, riddled with spy allegationssubmarine hunts and claims Russia rehearsed a military invasion of Gotland, strategically located in the middle of the Baltic Sea, back in March.

In September 2014 two SU-24 fighter-bombers allegedly entered Swedish airspace in what the former Foreign Minister Carl Bildt called “the most serious aerial incursion by the Russians” in almost a decade.

The following month a foreign submarine was spotted in Swedish waters, although the Swedish military was unable to determine where it came from.

Well, they’re rethinking it a bit:

Since the Kremlin seized and annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in March 2014, public opinion has shifted from broad opposition to Swedish membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to one in three Swedes now telling pollsters they favor joining.

How does Russia react?

After Swedish media gave broad coverage to rising pro-NATO sentiments, Russia’s ambassador to Sweden, Viktor Tatarintsev, warned that Moscow might react militarily if Stockholm were to abandon neutrality and join the alliance.

“I don’t think it will become relevant in the near future, even though there has been a certain swing in public opinion. But if it happens there will be counter measures,” Tatarintsev told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper in June. “Putin pointed out that there will be consequences, that Russia will have to resort to a response of the military kind and reorientate our troops and missiles. The country that joins NATO needs to be aware of the risks it is exposing itself to.”

Ah, that will help.

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