Sweden’s ‘submarine scare’: Time to stop this kid stuff

Ambassador's view
Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko
The Swedish minesweeper HMS Kullen is seen in the search for suspected "foreign underwater activity" at Namdo Bay, Stockholm October 21, 2014. (Reuters/Fredrik Sandberg/TT News Agency)
“The public has the right to know”: this phrase is frequently used as a popular motto for the British media. Sometimes though, the media in this country seems not to notice some inconvenient facts.

Let’s take last year’s “Baltic submarine scare” as an example. We saw a lot of jingoist rants about Russian submarines allegedly spotted somewhere in Swedish territorial waters. The headlines could horrify even the bravest. In the end no proof could be produced and the anti-Russian ratchet died out.

The other day Rear Admiral Anders Grenstad told Swedish newspapers that the suspected underwater vessel was in fact only a civilian “working boat”. So it turns out that the extensive (and costly for the Swedish public purse) naval search operation we witnessed last autumn had no serious grounds whatsoever. Quite conveniently it coincided with the preparations for hearings on increases in the Swedish military budget.

The Swedish Navy was brave enough to admit their folly. What about the British media? Did they keep the public informed this time? Strangely, not a single major British newspaper noticed this story. Well, it’s understandable – military budget is a sacred trust here, too.

Regretfully, there still are some politicians that cry wolf over nothing for their own political reasons. Instead of open and constructive dialogue in pursuit of joint solutions to strengthen peace and security in Europe they are feeding kids stuff to their own public opinion. May be it is time to change the topic?

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