Ukraine conflict boosts Swedish arms sales

Ukraine conflict boosts Swedish arms sales
Ukrainian military vehicles on the outskirts of Artemivsk, eastern Ukraine. Photo: TT
Swedish defence and security group Saab Tuesday reported soaring annual profits in 2014 and forecast stronger arms sales in response to conflicts in Ukraine and the middle east.

Saab's net profits were up 56 percent last year to 1.16 billion kronor ($137.67 million, 122 million euros) compared with 741 million kronor the previous year, and the group said it was on course to increase revenue by five percent in 2015.

"Defence budgets, which have declined in the United States and Western Europe during the past couple of years, are expected to increase in the coming

years," the group's chief executive Haakan Buskhe said in a statement.

Saab, which sells a wide range of weapons and radar systems – including the Carl-Gustaf rocket launcher used by US armed forces – closed a 39.3 billion kronor deal with Brazil in October for 36 Gripen NG fighter jets on top of an existing 60-jet order from the Swedish government.

Growing tensions with Russia over Ukraine during 2014 as well as ongoing conflicts in Syria and Iraq have led many governments to review their defence spending.

"One thing that drives all of this is of course the increase of defence spending in Russia," Buskhe told reporters, noting a 27-percent increase in Russian defence spending in 2014 in terms of rubles.

Buskhe added that turbulence in the Middle East due to campaigns by Isis (also known as the Islamic State), would also result in growing demand in the region.

"That will continue for many years ahead," he said.