Russia Would Just Love to Nuke Sweden

Discussion in 'The Far Abroad' started by Drutten, Jan 12, 2014.

  1. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    Here's another goodie.

    So, let me recap a little. Last spring the Swedish newspaper SvD suddenly revealed that according to unnamed intelligence sources, the Russian Air Force had been carrying out simulated attacks on targets in Sweden. This purported event was quickly dubbed "the Russian Easter" in the news, as the exercises in question had occured on Good Friday.

    At the time the story was quite vague. What was clear is that the Russian Air Force flew around over the Baltic as part of the large defense drill Ladoga 2013, and that the Swedish Air Force failed to respond in time. Now, the Russian aircraft never entered Swedish airspace or anything of the sort, but it is customary to "greet" visitors in international airspace and escort them about. Since the SweAF apparently failed to do so for unknown reasons (no order was ever given, it seems like), people were quick to label this a symptom of our failed defense and so on.

    To make matters worse, NATO aircraft based in the Baltics as part of the Baltic Air Policing (BAP) mission promptly took to the skies and shadowed the Russians from afar, and were later said to have commented on the odd lack of Swedes in the air at the time.

    Naturally, the whole event was quickly adopted into an overt PR campaign for NATO entry by certain pundits.

    Now in early 2014 another bomb was dropped. Apparently the Russians were carrying out simulated nuclear attacks against targets such as FRA's (our NSA-equivalent) headquarters outside Stockholm, and an airbase in southern Sweden:

    Exercised with nuclear weapons against Swedish targets
    http://www.expressen.se/nyheter/ovade-med-karnvapen-mot-svenska-mal/

    Now, before I continue it has to be said that it was revealed not long ago that the FRA isn't merely our equivalent to the NSA, it can almost be considered a direct subsidiary of the NSA and the British GCHQ. Here are some articles on the matter from the past year:

    FRA hacked computers for the NSA
    http://www.dn.se/nyheter/sverige/fra-hackade-datorer-at-nsa/

    Sweden 'spied on Russia leaders for US'
    http://rt.com/news/sweden-spied-russia-nsa-759/

    FRA has access to controversial surveillance system
    http://www.svt.se/ug/article1666993.svt

    Much thanks to Snowden it was revealed that the FRA conducts industrial espionage on the Russian energy sector, spies on its political leadership, taps into vast amounts of Russian internet traffic and so on. And all of this is freely shared with the American NSA, and the NSA has provided the tools to make this possible. FRA themselves were quick to deny it, but when presented with the evidence they instead said that Swedens interests came first and that the NSA was nothing but a faraway colleague in the fight against terrorism... Yes, that old card. Well, NSAs own papers say otherwise but what do they know?

    Just the other day, the European Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs expressed further concerns regarding mass surveillance in the EU, in which Swedens FRA plays an important part:
    http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML+COMPARL+PE-526.085+02+DOC+PDF+V0//EN

    Now, this is by no means a recent development. FRA conducted signals intelligence for the Americans already in the 1950's, which resulted in for example the "Catalina affair" in 1952. That's when Russian fighters scrambled and shot down a Swedish SIGINT aircraft (a modified DC-3) in international airspace, and later attacked a Catalina flying boat that was on the look out for the lost DC-3. This occured after a series of both American and Swedish breaches of Soviet airspace, and the plane in question was equipped with American spy gear and had been attempting to photograph and provoke aggressive response from a Soviet ship on maneuvers, in order to record signals from its tracking radars et cetera and later hand these over to the US.

    Now, this whole thing was shushed up. The official story was that it was a "navigation" flight and that the plane was lost for unknown reasons. Later, it came to be mostly about the Catalina (hence the popular name for the incident) and how the Soviets attacked it, which caused a public outrage against the USSR as the innocent "navigation" story was still prevailing.

    The Swedish public only recently got to know what happened, but the "full" official story that was published in the 1990s still omitted details such as the deep American partnership and the prior provocations etc. There is reason to believe that there was an US national on the plane as well, but that is yet to be confirmed.

    Anyway, the Swedish public has been kept in the dark about these things (there are many, many other similar things that have only recently been revealed) and apparently the plan was to keep them in the dark about the ongoing and by all means extensive NATO sucking up as well. The government has made a huge effort trying to hide from the public the fact that Sweden was never very neutral (contrary to the popular narrative) and that it was deeply involved with the US, NATO and their various intelligence agencies, on all levels. Of course, the Soviets knew this, as does Russia.

    So to cut back to the nukes. Basically the most recent scoop has it that two Tupolev Tu-22M3 Backfires conducted simulated launches of nuclear cruise missiles against the FRA headquarters and an airbase (an airbase that in case of war probably would be given away to NATO in a heartbeat, in line with numerous hints of secret agreements). How they know that simulated nukes were involved I do not know, supposedly it was revealed by radio intercepts. Of course, the way this is being treated in the medias is as usual something akin to "Russia plans to nuke poor neutral Sweden for no particular reason other than ill will".

    Personally, I have two problems with this. First of all, I highly doubt that the current narrative is truthful - it rarely is. Unfortunately it may take decades before a more nuanced assessment becomes possible as they're typically very keen on withholding vital pieces of information, and by that time whatever political impact they intended to achieve has already been well established.

    Secondly, I am surprised that little (if any) attention is given to the fact that for half a century we've actively been trying to include ourselves in Soviet/Russian war plans, and that these aspirations have been kept away from the public who was instead led to believe that we tried to stay out of things as per our neutral status. It's like we've become that annoying brat constantly out to provoke, only to run home and cry and complain about injustices when people get tired of it. And again, this unbeknownst to and against the wishes of our people.

    Pardon the gargantuan post, but I am very interested in foreign perspectives on this all. Perhaps even Russian ditto, if anyone can provide them.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2014
  2. Carlo

    Carlo Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Russia's response:

    Now seriously, this is a very interesting topic, though I am not well informed about it. Since the Cold War, Sweden has been only nominally neutral, and the US helped Swedish defense programs (specially allowing license-building of engines for the Viggen and Gripen fighters) in exchange of intelligence cooperation.
    Since you are Swedish, I have a question: what do you think about the assassination of Olof Palme? I've read somewhere in the internet that he may have been killed because he intended to improve Sweden's relation with the Soviet Union, including decreasing support for separatism in the Baltic republics. Is there any truth in this?
  3. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    Yes, that's a funny one.

    And yes, buying equipment and such is one thing. Of course it goes without saying that Sweden must have offered something in return but the problem is that it was never disclosed to the public just what that might be, nor were the long term implications of it disclosed to the rest of the elected government. No, I am not suggesting that complete transparency is achievable or even desirable, but when you put the population at serious risk it's different. Judging by what I've learned, we basically phoned up Moscow and told them to enter Swedish coordinates into their missile guidance computers. And then we act all horrified domestically and the public is made to believe that it constitutes a completely uncalled for threat against a neutral nation.

    This is a huge topic so there is no way I could do it justice in a mere forum post, nor am I overly initiated either. However, what I can say about it and my thoughts on the matter tie in rather well with what I have already written.

    Olof Palme was a controversial figure in many ways, as you probably know, and many hated him for a plethora of reasons. Many on the right accused him of being a traitor far too involved with the Kremlin. He was once caught lying in the face of the public to protect a minister in his cabinet (see the Geijer affair) which of course made people angry. Some were angry with him for his sharp condemnation of US wars, others applauded him for the very same statements...

    This is a troublesome starting point when you want to study a murder case, and at the time there were hundreds of trails. Some were followed up to varying extents, others were thrown in the bin without further consideration or simply locked up. More on this below.

    When Palme assumed office as Prime Minister for the second time in 1982, Swedens foreign affairs and attitudes had taken on an openly West-leaning character, much thanks to the then ongoing "submarine hunt" and the effect it had on the general population.

    In 1981, the Soviet submarine S-363 (informally known as U-137) ran aground in the archipelago outside the main Swedish naval port in Karlskrona. Why it was there continues to be debated to this day, some argue it was a drunken mishap, others blame it on faulty navigational aids and the vast majority considers it a deliberate spying effort. The Swedish military quickly assumed the third stance and aggressively defended it, with a few notable exceptions (for example commander Karl Andersson who was the first Swedish naval officer to board the vessel and talk to the Soviet crew -- he said that based on what he gathered there he could not discount it being an error, and as a consequence he became subject to a large defamation campaign, accusations of being a communist etc).

    Others have pointed to the fact that the submarine entered this narrow strait in surfaced mode, running on the loud diesel engines rather than the quiet electrical drive et cetera, which is not an approach you'd pick if you want to conduct covert operations. At the same time, getting into this narrow strait is no easy task, which would instead imply it being deliberate. I don' think it's ever going to be resolved, but that doesn't matter much these days.

    Naturally, Swedish skepticism of the USSR greatly increased due to this, much to the military's and the right-leaning parties' joy.

    The very next year, in the fall of 1982, the thing took on new heights as large parts of the Swedish navy became involved with chasing down foreign submarines in the waters (Hårsfjärden) by a naval base (Musköbasen) outside Stockholm. Now this is where things get interesting, because what followed was a massive disinformation campaign. The official narrative was that the submarines they were chasing obviously were Soviet, as in the previously confirmed case, and all information that pointed toward other culprits were quickly covered up (war diary entries pertaining to those days mysteriously disappeared, reports and data clearly indicating West German and other NATO submarines were censored and hidden away etc). Some military personnel involved also wondered why sudden ceasefire orders had been given when they were close to hitting the submarines they were supposed to chase, and why searches were called off seemingly only to let the submarines escape certain zones. All those enquiries were also censored and shoved away.

    Some of this information has been dug up in recent years, much thanks to investigative reporter Lars Borgnäs, former SweAF fighter pilot turned investigator Anders Jallai (who also located the wreckage of the DC-3 I mentioned earlier) and many others. NATO officials have also confirmed their naval presence in Sweden at the time, that the public was led to believe was Soviet. Apart from the events in Hårsfjärden in 1982, there were many other submarine dramas, many of which have also been linked to NATO activity but were blamed on the USSR at the time . Some were even shown not to involve submarines at all (i.e. paranoia), but of course they too were consistently presented as proof of Soviet subs.

    Despite all of this Palme became Prime Minister again in October 1982, right in the midst of it all. As such, Palme was of course forced to make a strong statement against the Soviet Union in order not to lose political credibility. All was good for the time being, but Palme then again became skeptical of NATO presence in and around Scandinavia (as it could make Sweden a focal point of the Cold War and present a nuclear threat to our country).

    A few years later, Palme resumed talks with the USSR, supposedly in order to promote a peaceful Europe and Scandinavia (which I have no reason to doubt), much to the dismay of many. Perhaps mostly so to the military brass and the right-wing conservatives such as Carl Bildt, who had been involved with the Americans since the 1970's and who built his political career largely on the submarine farce. He later became Prime Minister in 1991, and is now our foreign minister. Russia watchers are undoubtedly familiar with him and his many antics.

    So, Palme was supposed to visit Moscow in April 1986 but a few months prior to that he was shot and killed, with the ensuing criminal case being extremely poorly managed. The investigators later found an alcoholic bum whom they had confess the murder, but then he retracted his confession and nothing tangible ever pointed to him being the assailant anyway.

    Many people, investigators and criminologists strongly suspect that Palme was murdered by somebody in the Swedish intelligence community (agencies such as SÄPO, MUST, FRA), possibly following foreign orders. Much points to this, not only in terms of motives etc, but also the way the murder itself was carried out and the way the investigation was handled afterwards. The famous Swedish professor of criminology Leif G.W. Persson* and others (including the aforementioned Jallai) have suggested that SÄPO (our little CIA/FBI agency) was involved, and that particular theory was in fact investigated at the time. Unfortunately, that particular theory was investigated by SÄPO themselves (I'm not kidding), and everything pertaining to that investigation has been locked up well away from any prying eyes.

    I usually refrain from pointing fingers when there isn't enough hard data but in this case I am inclined to say that yes -- I would regard that "inside job"-theory as the most likely one. I would also not discount that Palme might have been a little too friendly with Soviet interests both before and during his office terms. That itself does not say much, nor does it excuse anything. We have this saying in Sweden, "lika goda kålsupare", which basically means that if anything, either side was just as instrumental in undermining our neutrality principles and the safety of the Swedish people. Perhaps one more so than the other, who knows, my personal conviction is that the NATO fanboys took it one step too far (and they're still at it).

    What I can say with certainty is that I'm not very fond of black-or-white thinking, and reality tends to disagree with that as well.

    It would be interesting to know who ordered it and who carried it out, at any rate. I honestly don't think we'll ever know.

    *It is interesting to note that G.W. Persson was the one who exposed that Palme scandal in the 70's that I mentioned in the beginning, as he had access to secret memos and such at his job as criminological advisor by the State Police Board. Despite this, professor Persson thinks that Palme was largely undeserved of his bad reputation in certain circles, and that he was brought down as part of a far grander scheme than some simple discord.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2014
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  4. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    Oh, a fun fact regarding Bildt and the submarine farce. After he became PM in 1991, he travelled to Moscow in an odd attempt to make the Russians "confess" their part in the Hårsfjärden submarine hunt.

    His weapon of choice was an underwater recording of what was said to be a Soviet submarine. The smoking gun.
    The Russians listened to the recording and said that it sounded nothing like any of their submarines, they proposed alternative explanations and also suggested that Bildt and his entourage should give it to independent analysts for a more fair and thorough assessment. The Swedes refused to do this and the recording was promptly hidden away and remained classified.

    Even after this, it remained the most commonly cited piece of evidence of Soviet culpability when the submarine hunt was discussed in Sweden. It was the smoking gun and damn you if you don't agree. Many military brass still stubbornly cling to it to this day despite the recent developments regarding both this particular recording and all the evidence pointing to NATO that has become public (that they tend to refuse commenting on).

    Well into the 2000's it turned out that one of the Russians who had been present during Bildts visit had kept a copy of the recording. The copy was scrutinised by a Norwegian acoustic analyst and he came to the conclusion that it bore the distinct signature of a three bladed propeller, which wouldn't correspond to any of the submarines that the Soviets operated in the Baltic at the time.

    Another couple of years later, Swedish intelligence finally declassified their copy and admitted that yes -- it was probably a three bladed propeller and it probably belonged to a civilian taxi ship that had been ferrying journalists around Hårsfjärden at the time... :)

    Bildt is reluctant to talk about these things today, but at least he's attempted some damage control in recent years. In 2000, Caspar Weinberger (US MoD 1981-1987) admitted that NATO submarines had been operating in Swedish territorial waters during those years. Shortly afterwards, Bildt came sprinting to the rescue and quickly dismissed this by claiming that Weinberger had told him in confidence that he'd been "misquoted"... However, Weinberger himself said nothing after his initial statement.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2014
  5. Carlo

    Carlo Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Thanks for your very complete and informative posts. I can understand that, in Cold War times, Sweden would have far more sympathies towards the US than the USSR, so it was natural to cooperate with the later. Now that the Cold War is over and Russia has absolutely no plans to attack, invade, nor even influence other countries, it makes absolutely no sense and Sweden could and should pursue a true neutral foreign policy.
  6. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    I assume you mean the former. ;)

    And yes, I wholeheartedly agree. Sweden can and should pursue an independent, neutral foreign policy. I will readily acknowledge that this cannot always be done, sometimes you do find yourself in a position where you need to pick sides, but crucially - not when it comes to foreign influence over domestic affairs and not always in relation to foreign ditto. That's our own effing business, as it affects us first and foremost. The people, our voters should have the right to be part of whatever decisions are made on what turns to take within that realm. Or at the very least be informed of what the hell is happening...
  7. MarkPavelovich

    MarkPavelovich Commissar

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    This is a great and extremely interesting account of events of which I had only the haziest knowledge, and while I well remember the Soviet sub running aground off Karlskrona, I bought the official explanation on that as well as the accusations of Swedish waters being thick with cabbage-eating Russian submariners after that, too. It is amazing to me now how gullible I was, how easily led around by the mainstream press. Thanks for a very interesting glimpse of what may have really been going on!
  8. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    Thank you sir. This is a shady chapter of Cold War history for sure, and there's a plethora of evidence that points to things being far more complicated than the media had us believe at the time.

    Interestingly, many of the recent revelations regarding the 1982 Hårsfjärden submarine farce were included in a spy novel of sorts written by one of the most popular crime authors in Sweden, Henning Mankell. On top of that, a motion picture based on said book was released rather recently - Den Orolige Mannen (the Troubled Man).

    I saw it the other day and was quite impressed actually (well, it does pack some of the typical awkward acting and general corniness of Scandinavian films, but that aside). It also includes some subtle hints about the Palme murder (though I guess if you're not familiar with some of the technical details of the murder case you won't spot them).

    At any rate, I can recommend it if you can find an English-subtitled version. It provides a brief and quite honest glimpse into the complicated relationships between Moder Svea and the Cold War superpowers.

    Apart from this, I think I'll try translating and subtitling a few documentaries about this all, documentaries involving the aforementioned investigators Borgnäs, Jallai et al. It'll be a massive project, but I often come across situations where I feel that the language barrier is really an information barrier (despite this globalised internet world, and perhaps mostly so regarding Russian affairs). Consequently, if there is a chance for me to bridge the gap a bit I'll sure give it a try.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2014
  9. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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  10. Carlo

    Carlo Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Very interesting, and sad. Sweden nowadays is even less neutral than it was in Cold War years, when neutrality was much harder. The stupid tweets by Bildt (http://rt.com/news/156548-west-reaction-ukraine-odessa/) are really disgusting. Sweden is already a NATO country, joining the alliance would be a mere formality of signing a few papers.
    It seems Finland is the only Scandinavian country truly neutral. I haven't seen any declaration of Finnish politicians regarding Ukraine. They are keeping a very low profile.
  11. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    Indeed... There's more:

    Sweden's Elite More Loyal to NATO, the US and the EU Than With Its People
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/05/02/sweden-no-longer-a-force-for-good/

    Ties in pretty neatly with what I've written above, and of course Bildt plays a major part.

    By the way, what I wrote in my original post about the Russian maneuvers over the Baltic and Sweden's puzzling inaction has been "explained". The Swedish Air Force's rapid response unit did receive orders from above not to do their typical thing.

    The lie they first used was that the personnel simply had time off, now a year later they are saying that they had orders not to do anything but it wasn't explained why. Now all it seems like it indeed was a tactical choice in order to highlight the apparent inaptitude of our defenses. Cue the NATO goons and all. Yep.
    Last edited: May 5, 2014
  12. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    Here's an interesting segment from Julian Assange's affidavit:

    https://wikileaks.org/IMG/html/Affidavit_of_Julian_Assange.html

    As you may recall he fled to Sweden for a bit, only to find himself royally screwed by our hospitality.
  13. Carlo

    Carlo Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Hi Drutten, do you have any interesting information about the recent "Russian submarine" found in Swedish waters? Nothing was found, and God only knows if there is any truth to the "distress signal" intercepted by the Swedish military.
  14. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    Not really, no. The military's real vague about it, actual facts are scarce and media is in full fear mongering mode.

    If you ask me, I wouldn't discount the possibility of some Russian covert intelligence operation gone bad. But it's too early to say and there are at least a dozen alternatives that are about as plausible. :) At least it's keeping the Navy on its toes, which is a good thing.

    Chances are that the mystery thing they're looking for will continue to elude them. Then in 10 years, strange circumstances will come to light and investigative journalists will find all kinds of weird things surrounding it all. Another 10 years later and you'll have the television documentaries.

    Quite honestly, it does smell a lot like Hårsfjärden. Time will tell.

    Some guys that are happy about it already are the people at SAAB though. They've been having a hard time recently due to all uncertainties regarding the Brazil Gripen deal, with plunging stocks and so on. But SVT pointed out yesterday that they climbed 12% just now. I'm not suggesting this as some kind of cui bono thing, that kind of conspiracy theory probably doesn't hold water, but this was very timely for a lot of people, especially in light of the recent change in government.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2014
  15. Carlo

    Carlo Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Thanks for the information, Drutten. If you find something, please share with us. Anyway, it seems that the "man in black" found in the shore, whom some claimed to be an agent just disembarked, is in fact a fisherman:
    http://www.expressen.se/nyheter/mystiske-mannen-jag-brukar-fiska-dar-ute/
    In my opinion, there is too much hysteria for almost nothing (all started with the supposed interception of a distress signal), which makes people see anything in the sea as a Russian submarine, and anyone walking in the shore as a Russian agent. Apart from SAAB, other people who would be very happy to find a Russian submarine in the Swedish shore are all those who lobby for NATO membership.
  16. NukeCEO

    NukeCEO Citizen

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    I think anyone who thinks a member of the EU isn't aligned to NATO or vice versa is insane. The EU and NATO are both just puppets of the US right now; this could have been disputed when Britain was still technically a superpower before decolonization, though.
  17. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    Yes, the "man in black" whose photo made the rounds for a few days turned to be an elderly citizen trying his luck at catching sea trout. Baltic sea trout are nearly indistinguishable from salmon, but they do venture real close to shore in the autumn and winter months, and fishing from the Baltic shores is generally legal without extra permits in Sweden (unlike lakes and streams which always require permits, as does boat fishing in the sea) so many try this, even though it is often difficult to find good spots.

    Most of the other photos published were determined to show the one or two Dutch submarines that operated in the area during that week as part of a larger NATO exercise (in which Sweden participated...)

    One photo showed an hitherto unknown submarine that the Swedish Navy too dismissed as being irrelevant to the "hunt" at hand, saying that they "knew about it" without providing further explanation. A few photos were of a civilian submarine doing touristy tours in the area (yes, those exist too).

    The alleged distress call was also dismissed as being made-up.

    Anyway, the "famous" real grainy photo of the white-ish somethingsomething out in the bay is the one they still cling to, apparently. A few days ago they supplemented it with a sonar scan of some drag marks on the seafloor, though they didn't say where these were found or what those marks were actually indicative of, other than that they weren't from any regular anchor.

    They also said that certain vessels in the area picked up "reliable" passive sonar data, ie underwater sounds, that indicated that something was moving in the area. No further data on this either though, and both the government and the Armed Forces declined to even make any passing comments on any (in their eyes) likely culprits (i.e. nationality wise).

    So that's where it stands now.

    On a somewhat unrelated note, a few days ago there were headlines about Russian aircraft violating our airspace. These turned out to be French.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2014
  18. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    Another mysterious photograph from last years' "submarine hunt" was recently dismissed as being a misidentification, Swedish media reported citing the Swedish Navy. It turns out it was a small civilian boat.

    So it would seem that by now all the peripheral things have fallen apart and what remains is still that grainy photo of the "white-ish somethingsomething" I spoke of before. That, and information that the Navy insists it has but refuses to share.
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  19. Carlo

    Carlo Ship Secretary (11th class)

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  20. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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