Two Russian jets that violated air space earlier this month and entered Sweden were carrying nukes, according to reports from Swedish media. According to Swedish news channel TV4 Nyheterna, the flyover near the island of Gotland on March 2 was deliberate with the intention of scaring Sweden.
A total of four planes had taken off from the Russian air base of Kaliningrad over the Baltic towards the island of Gotland. Despite significant coverage in Sweden, Stockholm's military is yet to confirm the occurrence. It's a terrifying escalation as tensions between the West and Russia over Putin's invasion of Ukraine continue to rise.
The four jets were intended to scare Sweden so that they don't interfere in the war between Russia and Ukraine. They were two Sukhoi 24 assault planes with two Sukhoi 27 fighter jets escorting them.
According to TV4 Nyheter sources, the two attack planes were equipped with nuclear weapons. During the incident on March 2, the fighter jets took off from a Russian airstrip in the enclave of Kaliningrad.
According to TV4, the action was made as a deliberate attempt to scare Sweden. The planes were intercepted by Swedish JAS 39 Gripen jets, who were in their airspace for about a minute.
The interception was confirmed by Stockholm earlier this month, but the rumors about the jets being loaded with nuclear weapons have just recently surfaced." This is a signal to Sweden that we have nuclear weapons and we could also consider using them," military strategic expert Stefan Ring told TV4 Nyheter.
"We assess it as a conscious action. Which is very serious especially as [Russia] is a warring country," Air Force Chief Carl-Johan EdstrÃ¶m said.
"I can not rule out incorrect navigation, but everything indicates that it was a deliberate act. That they violated Sweden's borders."
Su-24s are supersonic two-seater attack planes that have been in service since before the Soviet Union fell apart. Both Russia and Ukraine have deployed the planes in the present conflict.
According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Russia has at least 500 nuclear warheads earmarked for use by bombers.
The incident took place just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened Sweden and neighboring Finland with military action if they did not join NATO. At the time, the two countries were participating in joint military drills.
The Swedish fighter jets were scrambled and photographed the Russian jets, according to a statement.
Sweden cut its military spending after the Cold War ended. However, it was only after Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014 that parliament agreed on a turnaround. Sweden resumed mandatory military duty in 2017 and restored its Baltic Sea garrison on the island of Gotland in January 2018.