Countries around the Baltic Sea are on alert this week as Sweden continues its hunt for a suspected Russian submarine which entered its waters illegally. In scenes not seen since the days of the Cold War, "Swedish naval ships, helicopters and ground troops combed the Stockholm archipelago for a fourth day Monday for signs of a foreign submarine or smaller underwater craft that officials suspect entered Swedish waters illegally," reports the Associated Press. Since Friday there have been three sightings of the sub, according to Swedish military sources. On Sunday Sweden released a photograph of the mystery vessel: it appears as a small dark speck. Russia has denied any involvement in the incident, “Russian navy ships and submarines are fulfilling their duties in the world ocean waters in accordance with the plan,” said a Russian spokesman. “There has been and there are no extraordinary, let alone emergency, situations involving Russian warships.” Meanwhile, Reuters reports that "Finland last week accused the Russian navy of interfering with a Finnish environmental research vessel in international waters. The Swedish military has said information about suspicious activity came from a trustworthy source, without providing details, and that more than 200 military personnel were involved in the search."
The events are being monitored carefully by Baltic states, mindful of Russia's intervention in the Ukraine. On Twitter, Latvia's foreign minister Edgar Rinkevics wrote "Closely following events in the Swedish territorial waters, may become a game changer of the security in the whole Baltic Sea region." Estonia has increased its surveillance of its coastline, with the border guard looking out for "potential anomalies." And there are concerns in Lithuania "over the safety of a floating natural gas import terminal currently being transported on the Baltic Sea to the Lithuanian port of Klaipėda." Sweden is overreacting, according to Russia's official newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta. "Either Sweden's echo location equipment is working badly or, as the old saying goes, the eyes of fear see danger everywhere."
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