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Use Patriot missiles to defend Sweden: minister

11 Feb 2013, 11:16

Published: 11 Feb 2013 11:16 GMT+01:00

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"We've reduced our national defence capabilities for the last 20 years. Both the 2004 and 2009 defence resolutions totally focused on international missions," Jan Björklund, who is also the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) leader, said in an interview published on Sunday in the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

"It's now time for a little self-criticism and reflection. We need stronger national defence capabilities."

His party plans to set up a working group to review Sweden's defence and propose improvements. And starting in 2015, the party suggests Sweden spends more money on defence.

Currently, Sweden spends around 40 billion kronor ($6.2 billion) or 5 percent of GDP annually on "military defence", with an additional 3 to 4 billion devoted to "societal readiness".

While Björklund failed to put a price tag on increased military spending, he said he wanted fewer professional soldiers and more reservists.

Instead of recruiting professionals for six to eight years, soldiers could instead serve on active duty for two years before being placed on reserve for the next decade, he told SvD.

That would allow Sweden to have four to five brigades, around 30,000 soldiers, to protect Swedish territory.

Björklund also said Sweden needed better air defence and suggested that the government consider purchasing the US-made Patriot missile air-defence system and placing it on the Baltic island of Gotland.

Concerns about Russia were high on Björklund's list of reasons for Sweden to rethink its defence budget.

"I don't want to say they're a threat today, but for the first time since the Cold War the Russians are substantially rearming," he told SvD.

However, Foreign Minister Carl Bildt of the Moderate Party has expressed contrary opinions, arguing that Sweden's military spending is on par with that of other countries.

He acknowledged that developments in Russia were"worrying", but Bildt downplayed any actual threat.

"Even if Russia is rearming, it's not up to the levels of the Soviet Union," he told Sveriges Television (SVT) on Sunday.

On Monday, Christian Democrat military policy spokesman Mikael Oscarsson supported Björklund's call for more military spending.

Story continues below…

He told Sveriges Radio (SR) that the commander-in-chief's recent claim that Sweden could only defend itself for a week showed that "more focus" needed to be put on defence.

The Social Democrat chairman of the parliamentary committee on defence, Peter Hultqvist, said the divergent views of the Moderates and their coalition partners indicated "a split" within the government on defence policy.

TT/The Local/dl

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Your comments about this article

15:10 February 11, 2013 by StockholmSam
Wow, The Local, talk about a misleading headline! You make it sound as though the decision has already been made when in fact it has simply been suggested.
15:58 February 11, 2013 by skogsbo
just when you think you've heard it all, Politicians prove again how out of touch with reality they really are. So Russia grows strong again, does it move south into all those old nations just bursting with oil and gas, or head west into Finland and Sweden, just bursting with spruces and pines.... tough choice for Putin! ;)
18:25 February 11, 2013 by Brtahan
This is just bullshit to make the swedish Govt buy arms from the USA. what would russia want from sweden? more snow?
21:04 February 11, 2013 by TheWatchman
A suggestion not worth taking. Russia will not be invading or attacking Sweden, what is the point of this?
10:09 February 12, 2013 by ?????
Hmmm, now it's the right time to remind Russia of the very existence of Sweden by placing American missiles there facing East. How clever! And it's a constructive way to spend money in an age of crisis as well!
05:05 February 13, 2013 by mkvgtired
The article states Sweden spends 5% on military expenditures, the World Bank says its 1.2%. Does anybody know where this disparity comes from?
13:35 February 13, 2013 by isenhand

Yeap, its about 1.2% of GDP. No idea where the local gets 5% from.

Sweden certainly needs to sort out it's defence but I'm not sure Patriots is the way to go. Last I checked, they were not noted for hitting anything. Not really sure they would have much effect against the new version of Iskander either.
19:06 February 14, 2013 by rohermoker
As long as Sweden buys the missles from the US I'm fine with that, but if we in the US are providing the missles free of charge to prevent an invasion from Denmark or Finnland---I need them here in Minnesota to warn off the troublesome Canadians
23:10 February 14, 2013 by jimfromcanada

As long as you keep your handguns and assault rifles at home, you're welcome anytime, to visit.

I think Sweden is right to maintain military preparedness since Putin seems to think his political future depends on intimidating everyone else in Europe and beyond.
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