Sweden’s military said a mysterious object sighted in its waters was not a Russian spy submarine as initially suggested but rather a civilian fishing boat.
The Scandinavian country launched an extensive Cold War-style hunt last October after detecting what it described as foreign "underwater activity," claims bolstered by a grainy image circulated in the press.
Ola Truedsson, commander of the naval division of Sweden’s armed forces, said Wednesday that it was now clear the Oct. 31 image was not of a submarine.
“We are doing this to clarify what was perceived to be a submarine in a photograph, but what we now know with certainty was a civilian working ship," Truedsson said in a statement. "What we are now making public is one of several parts in our analysis of the observations.”
"It was not a submarine. We are completely sure of that,” the statement added, but said it was "equally sure" there had been a submarine violation of Swedish territory "a few weeks earlier."
Sweden, a historically neutral nation, is a member of the European Union but not of the NATO military alliance — which has seen heightened tensions with Russia since the annexation of Crimea.
Russia’s foreign ministry said the "unprecedented" hunt for one of its submarines had "thus proved to be nothing but a mindless waste of Swedish taxpayer money."
"This was done, as far as can be judged, to ramp up the anti-Russian hysteria and give a propagandist boost to the myth of a ‘military threat’ from the East,” it said in a statement.