Sweden is continuing to scour its waters for a foreign vessel suspected to be a Russian submarine and says that if it has to, it will use weapons to force it to the surface. The main point of the operation, which is now in its sixth day, "is to send a very clear signal that Sweden and its armed forces are acting and are ready to act when we think this kind of activity is violating our borders," the Swedish military's supreme commander tells the Local. "Our aim now is to force whatever it is up to the surface ... with armed force, if necessary." But he admits that submarines are "extremely difficult" to find: The only time Sweden captured a Soviet sub during the Cold War was when one ran aground near a major military base.
The military says it's investigating two fresh sightings of the suspected vessel, reports Reuters. The search is taking place among thousands of islands in the Stockholm archipelago, and analysts say it has exposed a major decline in the Swedish military's capabilities over the last couple of decades. "It's been awhile since we conducted this type of operation," the military's chief of operations tells the AP. "We are a bit rusty." At CNN, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis notes that the rocky floor of the Baltic makes submarines very hard to find and says that though Sweden isn't a NATO member, it is a "strong partner" and the alliance "should offer to assist with other assets and help sort out the situation, especially if there is any possibility of a vessel in distress."