Russia playing “psychological warfare” with Sweden says researcher

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A Swedish Navy fast-attack craft patrols in the the Stockholm Archipelago, Sweden, on October 18 2014. The Swedish armed forces launched a military operation around the islands off Stockholm following reports of suspicious 'foreign underwater activity'.(Pontus Lundahl/AFP/Getty Images)
A Swedish Navy fast-attack craft patrols in the the Stockholm Archipelago, Sweden, on October 18 2014. The Swedish armed forces launched a military operation around the islands off Stockholm following reports of suspicious ‘foreign underwater activity’.(Pontus Lundahl/AFP/Getty Images)
Submarines in the archipelago, fighter jets infringing Swedish airspace – it could all be part of a Russian strategy designed to influence Swedish society, an analyst tells Radio Sweden.

On Monday, tabloid Expressen reported new infringements on Swedish airspace. The Swedish Armed Forces confirmed a French plane entered Swedish airspace on Saturday, though initial media reports claimed it was Russian.

The news came just days after Sweden confirmed that a submarine entered Swedish waters in October. The submarine is widely believed to have been Russian, though that has not been confirmed by the government or the Swedish Armed Forces.

‘Part of a pattern’

Peter Mattsson, a senior lecturer at Sweden’s National Defence College, is convinced that the submarine was Russian.

“This is part of a pattern and designed to affect our population and our politicians. It is also a test of the Swedish Armed Forces,” Mattsson told Radio Sweden.

‘Sixth generation of warfare’

According to Mattsson, who has specialised on Russian defence, these moves are part of a new, psychological warfare.

“The Russians call this ‘the sixth generation of warfare’ or ‘non-contact warfare’,” Mattsson said. “The military is not the main objective. Instead, the main objective is the society itself.”

Asked why Russia would be interested in this, Mattson said that after 20 years of Sweden significantly cutting its defence capabilities, the Russian government is concerned about the weakened Swedish military.

“If we don’t have [a strong defence], then we must get help from someone else. And that someone else is – in the Russian view – Nato. If the Russians can show that we have weak defence capabilities, then the effect could be that we could get more military spending in the budget and that increases our ability to defend ourselves,” said Mattson.

The Russians are interested in a stronger Swedish defence because “they don’t want to have Nato bases in Sweden. That would be a nightmare for them.”

Related stories from around the North:

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Finland:  Duma foreign affairs committee chief: Finland willing to end sanctions, Yle News

Norway:  Russian Su-34 fighter bombers flying off Norway, Barents Observer

Russia:  Vestiges of the Berlin Wall in the Arctic, Blog by Mia Bennett

Sweden: Report calls for a study on Sweden joining NATO, Radio Sweden

United States:  Pentagon: Climate change is national security risk, Barents Observer

 

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