Sweden Increases Defense Expenditures over Russian Threat
Sweden?s government has announced plans to increase the budget share of defense in the years to come until 2024.
The country?s number of aircraft and submarines is to be increased, and military presence in the Baltic sea is to be bolstered, according to the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
For that period, the increase could amount to USD 832 M (around EUR 602 M), a sum which would be secured through fresh tax legislation and budget cuts in other areas, including energy cooperation with Russia.
In a joint article for the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, the leaders of four parties in cabinet said that an emphasis will be put in 2015's budget on strengthening the army.
Government representatives added they had decided to buy 10 more fighter jets to the Swedish defense company SAAB, apart from an order of 60 aircraft that had been previously planned.
Over the course of the last two decades, funds put aside for defense in Sweden have gradually dwindled, while the strength of the military has been drastically reduced.
Government officials however explained on Tuesday that Russia's actions "went beyond expectations" and "confirmed fears" among the country's ruling elite.
The idea to upgrade military capacities is an older one, though.
In April 2013, maneuvers made by six Russian aircraft over Swedish airspace triggered a nationwide debate on a possible re-armament, after the military's reaction was described as "inadequate".
Sweden's plans also come amid moves by NATO to step up the defense at its eastern flank.
They were agreed a few weeks ago in response to a threat that the alliance says is now being posed by Russia, which amassed troops on its border with Ukraine.
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