By Patricia H Kushlis
Last Friday, Swedish media reported the siting of an unidentified foreign submarine lurking in Swedish waters not all that far from Stockholm. This set off a wave of speculation, finger pointing, rafts of unanswered questions, memories of the Cold War, a still submerged vessel and crew, and an immediate and predictable Russian disinformation barrage - in this instance pointing the finger at the Dutch. According to the Kremlin, the submarine the Swedes reported was, likely, a Dutch U-boat: This according to that fount of Russian misinformation - Russia Today.
After an equally rapid Dutch denial, the Russians then claimed that the submarine must be a chimera, just a figment of Swedish imagination.
According to Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) a major daily Swedish newspaper, Swedish intelligence sources had detected a foreign object, likely a mini-submarine, in distress near the Swedish shore. The Swedish military's search - according to the BBC - has concentrated on Ingaro Bay - not far from Stockholm.
According to the same Swedish sources, that same submarine’s Russian speaking crew was overheard to be in contact with the Russian naval base at Kaliningrad, a Cold War remnant, located between Lithuania and Poland, likely the baby submarine’s home port on October 16 and 17.
The next thing that happened was the arrival of the “Concord,” a Russian-owned oil tanker flying the Liberian flag – perhaps coming to help the submarine crew fix whatever its problem or who knows what. The Concord has apparently moved on. Or maybe it was just hovering in international waters – as oil tankers apparently do – as the Russians suggested. Then there's the MS Logachev, a Russian research vessel that arrived in the area thereafter.
The Dutch government quickly denied the Russian Dutch U-Boat accusation. But how likely is it that a Dutch crew would be Russian-speaking or sending distress signals in Russian to a Russian naval base even if their vessel was lurking in Swedish waters.
Face it, the Netherlands is a member of NATO. Sweden and Finland recently signed a partnership agreement with NATO, and although the Dutch speak a number of languages well Russian is normally not the one of choice.
For that matter one has to wonder why the Dutch would be interested in spying on Swedish naval capabilities in the Baltic Sea anyway or that a Russian-owned oil-tanker or research vessel parked just outside Swedish waters would be sent to help out a Dutch vessel in distress. This is just the sort of questionable yarn that lights up the late night comedy shows hosted by Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert.