Phantom Russian submarines show up (UK, Sweden) when defence budgets are being discussed

I get more cynical with each day, but it is remarkably coincidental that mysterious Russian submarines show up off the Swedish coast and now, even off the UK coast, just when defence budgets are being discussed.

BBCAn RAF plane is “conducting activity” off the Scottish coast, the Ministry of Defence says, amid reports of a Russian submarine being spotted in the area.

A Royal Navy Frigate and submarine are also thought to be involved in the search, along with Canadian and French maritime patrol aircraft.

But the same incident is also reported by Sputnik News:

British and French forces are looking for what the UK media has termed a “Russian submarine” as the country’s navy calls for budget increases.

Britain’s navy and air force have spent at least ten days searching for what the country’s media have called a “Russian submarine”, the BBC reported. The country’s defense ministry did not confirm that it was looking for a foreign submarine in its statement. This is the third time the UK has conducted search operations, according to the Telegraph, with the previous instance(s) tied to demands for higher defense spending.

Just a year ago it was the Swedish defence forces who claimed to be playing hide-and-seek with a mysterious Russian mini-submarine in the Stockholm archipelago. No submarine was found of course and I wrote then.

Perhaps there is a submarine out there. Perhaps it was in distress. Perhaps it was testing Swedish defences.

I have my doubts. Maybe I am just being cynical but I see two “drivers” here. A push for NATO membership and a larger defence budget. There is a new Red/Green government in place and they are due to present their first budget proposal today. Normally the Red/Greens could be expected to cut back on defence spending and they are ideologically not at all comfortable in joining NATO. They have an idealised and somewhat glorified vision of a “Swedish neutrality” even if it is completely contradicted by the reality of cooperation with the US and NATO for at least the last 30 years. Public opinion is against NATO membership – but only just. The Swedish military would just love to be part of NATO and take part not only in exercises but also in some real live fire-fights. The Swedish military – for all its restricted defence budget – is quite technologically advanced but lack playgrounds for their toys. Being part of NATO would provide more playgrounds and even more toys and many more players to play with.

In the case of the UK it seems to be a play written by the Ministry of Defence bureaucrats to protect their turf, when general budget cuts are in the air.  It seems to be a defensive ploy against the expected actions from George Osborne. The French defence ministry is also afraid of cuts by the socialist government. In the Swedish case it is more likely to have been a play written by the military rather than the bureaucracy. The military would very much like to be a part of NATO and the Red/Green Government is perceived as a greater threat than phantom Russian submarines.

There is little doubt that the weapons industry is not averse to promoting and developing their markets, even to the extent of instigating conflicts (Africa, Middle East). Compared to their machinations, a few phantom Russian submarines, invented by bureaucrats and occasionally getting lost in the Baltic or the North Sea, is only very minor disinformation. It is only mildly unethical, hurts no-one, and is surely allowable for the worthy cause of protecting defence budgets.

Triton NN submersible

 

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