Russian fighter jets
Russian fighter jets iStock

Two Russian fighter jets that violated Swedish airspace earlier in March were carrying nuclear weapons, the Daily Mail reported.

The two places were part of a squadron of four that took off from a Russian airbase in Kaliningrad and illegally flew over Sweden for around a minute.

In response, the Swedish Air Force sent two JAS 39 Gripen jets to observe the planes and take photos. According to Swedish media, it was at that moment that it became clear the Russian fighters were equipped with nuclear warheads.

Military strategic expert Stefan Ring told TV4 Nyheter that the Russian flyover was a “signal to Sweden that we have nuclear weapons and we could also consider using them.”

“We assess it as a conscious action. Which is very serious especially as [Russia] is a warring country,” Air Force Chief Carl-Johan Edström added during the interview. “I cannot rule out incorrect navigation, but everything indicates that it was a deliberate act. That they violated Sweden's borders.”

The incident took place a few days after Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Sweden and Finland not to join NATO or risk facing military action.

Both countries were participating in joint military exercises when the Russian planes were spotted above Sweden.

Sweden is not a member of NATO but has a close alliance with the organization. In 2017, Sweden reintroduced mandatory military service and last October increased military spending by 40 percent, reacting to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.