B-52 bombers to exercise over Sweden

In the coming month, Sweden will take part in two big international military exercises. What is new, reports news agency TT, is that the Armed Forces openly say that one of the purposes with this is to "send a security political signal".

Starting next Monday, Sweden takes place in the airborne Arctic Challenge Exercise together with eight countries, the US and Germany among them. This will turn large parts of northern Sweden from Umeå and up, TT writes, into a gigantic training ground.

And in the beginning of June, the Nato-led marine exercise Baltops, will take place in the Baltic Sea.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, major general Karl Engelbrektson told reporters that both exercises are bigger and more complex than their predecessors.

"The main objective is to increase the different operative capabilities, but also to send clear security political signals that we do these things together with others," he said.

TT: How would you want Russia to interpret these exercises?

"Primarily, we want to send a signal about how we understand the mission that the Armed Forces has been given and how Sweden understands its mission. And that is that we will exercise and increase our security together with others. How Russia interprets that, they can decide for themselves," Karl Engelbrektson said.

Jacob Westberg, lecturer in security policy and strategy at the Swedish Defence University, told TT that - as far as he can tell - it is news that the Armed Forces is specifically sending out political signals. "I am guessing that the signal is aiming to say that Sweden will not give in to the kind of scare tactics that part of Russia's actions can be interpreted as, such as the violation of our air space," he said.

The most spectacular part of these exercises will take place on the 13th of June, when two American B-52 bombers will be flying from the US and simulate dropping naval mines outside Ravlunda on the Swedish east coast. After the mission, which is supposed to simulate the defence of the coast when it is attacked by an amphibious operation, the bombers will return to the US without any stop-overs.

"People in the area will be able to hear it," said Karl Engelbrektson about the exercise.

The go-ahead for these exercises will be decided upon in parliament on Thursday. According to the tabloid Expressen, the Green Party's foreign policy spokesperson Valter Mutt and the leader of the Left Party, Jonas Sjöstedt are against allowing American B-52's to exercise over Swedish territory for the first time.