Sweden has extended its biggest military mobilisation since the Cold War as it investigates apparent “foreign underwater activity” in its coastal waters.
Speculation centres on suspicions that a Russian submarine could be in trouble, amid three sightings of a mystery vessel that may or may not be snooping.
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven is playing down the James Bond-style drama.
“There is an increase in training exercises on both sides, both from Russia and NATO,” he said.
“There is no reason to exaggerate any concerns but of course we are informed of what is happening in the Baltic as it is in our immediate surroundings.”
With shades of Frederick Forsyth, the maritime mystery has fired the imagination of the region and triggered claim and counter-claim.
Moscow denies it has any submarine in mechanical trouble in Sweden’s waters, but nervous governments fear that the Baltic Sea could become the next flashpoint with Russia after Ukraine.
The Netherlands denies Russian reports that the submarine could be Dutch.
Lithuania meanwhile suspects a link between the submarine incident and a massive floating liquefied natural gas terminal intended to reduce the Baltic region’s dependence on Russian energy.