Last Friday evening, a Russian reconnaissance aircraft was detected over Danish and Swedish airspace. The Russian spy plane reportedly entered Danish airspace around Denmark’s Bornholm, then into Swedish airspace. The mission of the Russian spy is currently unknown.
As a response from the two countries, Denmark and Sweden have summoned their respective Russian ambassadors to explain what the spy plane was doing on their territory. Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod criticized the Russians for their actions, labeling the act as “unacceptable.” He also reported that the Russian ambassador to Denmark would be summoned on Monday. Details of the meeting have not yet been reported thus far.
Honored to meet with @ZelenskyyUa here in Kyiv. You have been such an inspiration to people all over the world. Fighting for our common rights and values and setting a strong example for your country. Denmark stands side by side with you 🇩🇰🇺🇦 #dkpol pic.twitter.com/tWKTZi6O6O
— Jeppe Kofod (@JeppeKofod) May 2, 2022
“A new Russian violation of Danish airspace. This is totally unacceptable and particularly worrying in the current situation,” the Danish Foreign Minister said.
In a similar response, the Swedish Foreign Ministry had announced that it would be summoning the Russian ambassador to Stockholm. Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist said that the act from Russia was also unacceptable and was unprofessional. The Swedish response to the incident will prove to be a hint to its future stances in conflict as the country was rumored to be joining NATO as a member along with Finland, countries which have traditionally been neutral.
“There exist established procedures for this kind of case. It concerns notably summoning the representative of the implicated nation to the foreign ministry,” the Swedish Foreign Ministry said to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Russia should be very careful of crossing boundaries with Denmark as the country is a part of NATO and could be interpreted as a direct threat by Denmark. However, the Danish being responsible and knowing the implications of war, have decided to take a more diplomatic approach to the situation.
“It was a reconnaissance plane that was in our airspace for a very brief moment. Two Danish F-16 immediately intervened,” Danish Defense Command Press Officer Henrik Mortensen said on Sunday.
“This action is unprofessional and, given the general security situation, very inappropriate. Swedish sovereignty must always be respected,” Hultqvist said.
The aircraft was later identified to be a Russian AN-30 propeller plane, as reported by the Swedish Defense Ministry.
Swedish Chief of Air Force Carl-Johan Edström also weighed in on the issue. According to him, they had followed the Russian spy plane “for a long time,” and they immediately started incident preparedness as they detected the aircraft heading toward their territory. For more proof, they also photographed the entire incident.
“When it approached Swedish territory, they followed along the border, and that’s when they violated Swedish airspace for a short period,” the Air Force chief said.
He also echoed the sentiments of his country and Denmark, characterizing the incident as “irresponsible” and “unprofessional,” especially during the time of heightened security issues in Europe.
“There is no reason that you should fly so close that you can accidentally enter the territory of a country. You may well be 10-15 kilometers from the border; then, such things do not have to happen,” he said.
However, Sweden was also willing to give Russia the benefit of the doubt this time around, stating that there were no signs of direct threats of an armed attack.
“There is no indication at this time that this was deliberate. It may well have been a mistake,” Edstrom said while also expressing that they could not rule out a Russian threat in the future since there have been discussions of Sweden wanting to join NATO.
This is not the first time Sweden’s airspace has been violated by Russian aircraft. Last March, 4 Russian fighter jets, namely 2 Su-27s and 2 Su-24s, entered Swedish airspace near the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. In response, JAS 39 Gripen jets were sent to the area.
In the past, SOFREP has monitored Russia’s responses to Sweden and Finland’s ambitions to join NATO. Director of the Second European Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry Sergei Belyaev has said that there would be “serious military and political consequences requiring us to revise the entire range of relations” and added that they would “take retaliatory measures,” which would sound like a threat to most countries.
In a separate report, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Finland and Sweden would become the new frontline for NATO if ever the two countries decide to be members.
This has not deterred Sweden and Finland from joining the alliance due to Russian expansionist rhetoric. In historical shifts, Sweden and Finland recently announced that they would jointly announce their decision regarding their NATO membership by May 16, a leap from neutrality to the Western military alliance. Sweden’s Magdalena Andersson and Finland’s Sanna Marin is set to meet at Schloss Meseberg Castle to discuss more security issue with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on May 3, in a prospective further step into NATO member applications.