Jumpy Baltic naval powers went into full lock-down last year after a suspected Russian submarine was spotted off the coast, but at least one of the many sightings of Putin’s best probing Western defences appears to have been less sinister than first supposed.
Just days after the first sighting, a retired Swedish naval officer took a photograph of what he believed to be another Russian submarine illegally operating in NATO waters. What was supposed to be a high-tech, black, submersible has turned out to be a white, plastic, 10-metre civilian boat. The man who was piloting the craft in question, the appropriately named Time Bandit has said the navy haven’t even been in touch with him over the incident, and that where they claimed the photograph was taken isn’t even correct.
Despite the admission of Rear Admiral Anders Grenstad of the error, the naval officer who snapped the photograph, Cold War and submarine-hunting veteran Sven Olof Kviman insisted there had been no mistake. TheLocal.se reports he said: “It is completely impossible that we have got this wrong, it would mean both my wife and I were colour blind.
“Time Bandit, at a length of 10 metres, is of a completely different size to the submarine. I saw the submarine above water: the bow, stern and tower. It is always difficult to determine the size, but it was around 20-30 metres long”.
Breitbart London reported on the massive submarine hunt last October, when it was believed up to four Russian submarines were on the loose in the Baltic. The search was the largest active deployment of naval craft in the Northern European sea since the end of the Cold War.
Whether the craft spotted was a Russian submarine or not, it remains true that Russia has been stepping up probing expeditions by its military assets over the course of the past year, with record numbers of interceptions of ‘Bear’ Nuclear bombers by NATO fighters in the skies over Europe. The increase of activity is blamed on the tensions rising over the ongoing war in the former Ukraine, as Russia flexes its muscles and uses the deployments to generate diplomatic capital.