Two Su-27s and two Su-24s were involved in a “short-lived” violation.
The Swedish Armed Forces Headquarters disclosed a recent violation of Sweden’s airspace by four Russian aircraft. The incident, which happened on March 2, 2022, was defined “short-lived” and quickly prompted the scramble of two JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets to intercept two Su-27 Flanker fighter jets and two Su-24 Fencer attack aircraft.
“With the current situation as backdrop, we take this incident very seriously. Russia’s conduct is unprofessional and irresponsible”, says Air Force Commander Carl-Johan Edström in the press statement. Based on the photos released by the Swedish Air Force, the four Russian aircraft appeared to be unarmed.
The airspace violation happened over the sea east of Gotland, the largest Swedish island in the Baltic Sea. At the same time, in the maritime area west of Gotland, Sweden and Finland were conducting a joint military exercise, which were also attended by the two countries’ defence ministers to discuss the current security situation as well as mutual cooperation.
According to a press release from the Finnish Defence Forces, the goal of the exercise was to test and develop the interoperability of the two countries’ navies and air forces. The exercise saw the participation of multiple ships from both navies, as well as Finnish F/A-18 Hornet and Swedish Gripen fighter jets.
“The Russian violation of Swedish airspace is of course completely unacceptable,” Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist told news agency TT. “It will lead to a firm diplomatic response from Sweden. Swedish sovereignty and territory must always be respected.”
The timing of the incident is also notable, as Sweden disclosed on Sunday that it would send military aid to Ukraine, including 5,000 anti-tank weapons, marking the first time since 1939 that Sweden has sent weapons to a country at war. The incident also comes few days after Russian President Putin threatened “serious military and political repercussions” against Sweden and Finland should they decide to join NATO.
At the same time, it’s also worth remembering that sporadic violations have been reported in the region in the past few years, with Russian spyplanes or fighters shortly intruding into the Swedish airspace during their missions over the Baltic Sea.