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Sunday, 8 November 2015

ROV carrying explosives near Nord Stream pipeline

I've talked about tension and how for example the tension in and above the Baltic Sea increases and therefore also the probability of security incidents increases.

On November 7 (2015) an unmanned remotely operated vehicle (ROV) was found on the sea bed in the Baltic. It was found on international water, but within the Swedish economic zone. What makes this story extra juicy is that:
(1) the ROV was found not far from the gas pipeline Nord Stream going from Russia to Germany, and
(2) the ROV is carrying explosives.

This type of ROVs are often used in mine clearing operations (of new as well as old mines). In such operations the mine is first localized with sensor from afar and the detonated under controlled circumstances with dispensable ROVs like this one (used by many nations).

Unfortunately the Baltic is full of old WWII mines and unexploded ammunitions. Clearing mines in the Baltic (especially in the eastern part) is a long going tradition since Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania became independent states in the beginning of the nineties and the Swedish Navy has taken part at least since the mid nineties as an exercise with an important result. However, the exercise became more political as a result of the Ukraine crisis even though clearing WWII mines has only friendly implications.

The relative large extent of mine clearing over a long period of time in the Baltic makes it very possible that the now found ROV is a left over from such operations. Therefore, the most likely explanation is that the ROV is a result of peaceful intentions. However, I've seen discussion on the internet trying to make it out to be something else. The point of such discussions can be questioned!

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Swedish boarders has been violated at least 42 times over the last five years

Based on a request from the Swedish news paper Dagens Nyheter  the Swedish Department of Defence has released a list of the documented violations of Swedish borders in the air and at sea for the years 2011 to 2014. In total the list contains 42 incidents and 16 countries (out of which 12 are NATO countries).

The list is based on information provided by the Swedish Armed Forces and new a praxis in force since October first 2015 makes the information available to the public. This new praxis is mostly a result of political needs to put defense issues on the agenda.

The amount of violations has increased from three in 2011 to twelve in 2014 (not counting the submarine in the Stockholm Archipelago in October 2014) and so far eleven times in 2015.

Personally I don't want to put too much focus on the violations because every serious nation will train their forces and easiest way to do this is from your country and outwards, i.e. towards your neighbors. During such training an over eager pilot can easily turn away to late even though there is no aggression involved.

The highest number of violations are performed by the US, seven in five years. Russia only six during the same period. This in itself is nothing to get all fired up about and also Sweden manages to do the same to our neighbors. However, two things worries me:
- Russia does not acknowledge their mistakes which could lead to problems if there was a more serious incident; and
- the increased numbers of incidents is a proof of more activity and probably also more tension over the Baltic Sea.

With more activity (and tension) comes an increase in the probability of something going wrong or being interpreted the wrong way which could lead to consequences, i.e. there is an increase in security risk on and above the Baltic Sea.