Did one false report in Swedish newspaper cause the submarine fiasco?

I have posted earlier about the “Russian submarine in the Stockholm archipelago” hysteria which gripped the Swedish media and – apparently – the Swedish military for 6 days. (Though my perception is that the hysteria was with the media and the military and not with the general public. It did not cause much general alarm but it did provide another subject for after-dinner conversation and for wild speculation in the bars).The hunt is now over and there is plenty of egg on many faces. The Russian press and social media are having a field day with Swedish military alarmism.

But all of it may have originated from just one false article in the right-leaning Svenska Dagbladet. Of course it was compounded by further false sightings. This is a report from the left-leaning Dagens Nyheter (the nearest media competitor to the Svenska Dagbladet).

Dagens Nyheter: The operation carried out by the Swedish armed forces in the Stockholm archipelago was not triggered by one emergency call in Russian. So says Naval Intelligence to DN.

On Saturday, October 18th the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet revealed that an emergency call in Russian set off the alarm and started the hunt for a damaged Russian submarine in the Stockholm archipelago. The newspaper also said that there had been encrypted radio traffic between a transmitter in the archipelago and one transmitter located in Kaliningrad where large parts of the Russian Baltic Fleet is located. This news was reproduced by virtually all Swedish media, including DN. The disclosure also received international attention.

Already in last Friday’s paper newspaper DN revealed that no radio communications between the field of operation and Kaliningrad were intercepted during the six-day operation.

DN has now with the support of Freedom of Information rules obtained a copy of the transcript from the Armed Forces and has had the transcript translated.
Documents relating to military operations are usually completely or partly exempt under secrecy rules. When documents are denied the authorities are required to disclose an “Incident Report”.  Those denied documents can then appeal the decision. But no Russian emergency traffic ever occurred according to the military’s own investigation reported DN’s intelligence source. The documents just do not exist, according to the military.

“I thought it was exciting to read about the Russian emergency call you reported. But there is no such thing – the information is incorrect” says a source in Navy intelligence.

Has there been any radio traffic from Stockholm archipelago to and from Kaliningrad?

“There is traffic from Kaliningrad constantly, 24 hours a day. This is nothing strange. It’s just like any of our radio stations everywhere in Sweden – they transmit all the time” says DN’s source.

And if all the fuss was triggered by just one false report in the Svenska Dagbladet, it begs the question as to whether it was just bad journalism or whether there was another motive and a hidden agenda? And why did the Swedish military react so hysterically to just one bad media report?

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