Russian military flight by Gotland condemned by right and left

After two Russian air force planes flew close to Gotland, politicians gathered there for the Almedalen political week reacted with anger.

"It's the classic behavior of a nationalistic and authoritarian right-wing regime," said Jonas Sjöstedt, leader of the Left Party, to newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

Sjöstedt praised how the Swedish Gripen fighters quickly responded by meeting the Russian TU22 in the air, and affirmed his support for a military that focuses on self-defence, and a foreign policy that is free from military alliances.

His political opponent, Jan Björklund of the Liberals, is a strong supporter of NATO membership. And his party has also called for the highest increase in military spending. He criticised the government for only defending Gotland by moving in one rifle company during this time of rising tension, and wants anti-aircraft forces permanently stationed on the island.

"What we need is air defence", said Björklund to newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

The minister for defence, Social Democrat Peter Hultqvist, was not in Gotland, but says to Dagens Nyheter by text message "the Russian bomber exercises over the Baltic confirm the increasingly extensive, and in certain instances provocative, pattern of Russian exercises." He says it shows the importance of being able to react to threats, and that the Swedish air force has carried out around 50 percent more such missions than a few years ago.