Stockholm: Sweden said on Friday it appeared that at least one foreign vessel had likely operated in waters near its capital in recent days, calling such activity "unacceptable."
"Our assessment is that there was at least one (vessel)," Rear Admiral Anders Grenstad told reporters in Stockholm, hours after the week-long operation for what media speculated was a Russian submarine was called off.
"It`s the assessment of the defence forces that probably foreign underwater activity has taken place in Stockholm`s inner archipelago," he said, calling any foreign activity within Swedish territory "unacceptable."
"It may have been a small vessel," he said.
Reports last week of a "man-made object" in waters near the Swedish capital set off a search operation involving battleships, minesweepers, helicopters and more than 200 troops scouring an area about 30 to 60 kilometres (20 to 40 miles) from Stockholm.
Russia has denied it was the source of the suspicious underwater activity, blaming a Dutch submarine for triggering the hunt, a claim rejected by the Netherlands.
"I don`t want to comment on what Russia says. I have not pointed fingers at any nation," Grenstad said.
He said it could be ruled out that a large conventional submarine had been active in the archipelago, but did not elaborate.
Some analysts have said that any foreign power trying to carry out intelligence work near Sweden`s capital would probably rely on small submarines, possible minisubs with crews of perhaps just one or two.
Grenstad suggested the Swedish military had been in touch with foreign counterparts during the search operation.
"We have a contact network, or we have received advice and support for what we`re doing now. But this operation has been entirely Swedish," he said.