A Russian signal reconnaissance plane and two Russian fighter jets entered Swedish civil surveillance airspace north of Visby on Thursday without signaling the approach, according to a source speaking to the Swedish press. The breach came as Swedish forces are currently taking part in the annual Baltops naval exercise, where, among others, the amphibious ship USS Kearsarge visited Stockholm.
The event in Sweden coincided with a Russian exercise in Kaliningrad which ran until June 18.
The airspace breach occurred on Thursday morning, according to reports, as Russian surveillance planes took an interest in Swedish drills.
Russia has deployed an Ilyushin Il-20 spy plane, accompanied by two Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jets.
The three Russian planes then probably descended at low altitude over the USS Kearsarge to probably be able to photograph the American ship, according to the DN source.
The three planes, on several occasions, entered the northern part of the Visby terminal area where all planes must report their arrival, among other things to avoid accidents with other traffic.
A rule that applies to all commercial aircraft and military aircraft.
According to Swedish sources, the Russian plane did not carry out the required security transmissions.
The Russian military aircraft also lacked a transponder signal and was therefore not visible on the civilian radar used by Visby airport.
The lack of a signal meant that the aircraft could not be observed or contacted by local air traffic control.
This meant that civil aviation in the area could not be noticed by approaching Russians in the area and thus put several aircraft at risk of collision.
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The Visby Terminal Area, or Visby TMA, runs north from Visby Airport halfway to the Stockholm area.
The northern and western parts of the area, where the Russian planes were stationed, start at 1,300 meters and extend to 2,900 meters.
The three Russian planes started the flight at a higher altitude but then descended to a much lower altitude, apparently to approach the American vessel.
Such violations are common, but have become more worrying since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
In addition, Sweden’s bid for NATO membership has added tension between Stockholm and Moscow, with Putin warning of the consequences of the move.
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The Swedish armed forces confirmed that Russian planes were in the air as part of the exercise and that Swedish planes intercepted and followed the aircraft.
Swedish Armed Forces press officer Erik Karlsson said: “We can only confirm that the Russian planes remained outside Sweden’s territorial border and that this was not a violation .”
Mr Karlsson also said the armed forces had Swedish planes in the air to follow the Russian planes.
For more stories like this, follow Defense & Security Correspondent James Lee on Twitter: @JamesLee_DE
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk last month, Zsofia Wolford, Europe and Eurasia analyst at a risk intelligence firm Sibyllinesaid Putin may be considering a two-pronged approach to how Russia handles the consequences of Finland and Sweden joining the bloc.
In terms of the immediate Russian response, Ms Wolford said: “We may see some military escalation between the sides, but we are likely to see more airspace violations as Russian aircraft spread across the region.
“Russia has already repeatedly violated airspace in the region, and this may increase in frequency as Russian aircraft maneuver in response.”
She added: “I believe Russia will also increase its naval capability in the Baltic Sea, positioning assets in the region and increasing the presence of amphibious assault ships in the region.”