Wallström in U-turn

SU27 fighter jets flew with transponders switched offSwedish military jets identified and tracked four Russian combat planes flying near Gotland and Bornholm on Tuesday morning. The aircraft – two TU22M bomber planes and two SU27 fighter jets – were flying in international airspace with their transponders switched off.

Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist said to the TT news agency that Russia had not violated international aviation rules, but added that Sweden had previously pointed out to Russia that this was inappropriate behaviour. “Flying without transponders in the way the Russians do is generally unsuitable,” he remarked.

Foreign Minister Margot Wallström first said it was unacceptable for Russian planes to be flying with their transponders shut off, calling it a violation of international aviation rules.

“We must have respect from Russia for the existing rules and regulations and an end to what has been incredibly challenging and downright dangerous for civil aviation. We are tired of always having to protest against this kind of … breach of rules.” she said.

However, later in the day Erik Boman, the Foreign Minister’s press secretary, called TT to clarify that Wallström and Hultqvist were in agreement. “Formally it is not a breach of rules, but it is inappropriate behaviour,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Swedish military said the threat against Sweden had not grown but that the Armed Forces were watching the “increased activity” in the region.

SU27 fighter jets flew with transponders switched off