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MILITARY

Sweden to boost defence budget to two percent of GDP

Sweden's prime minister, Magdalena Andersson on Thursday announced a plan to boost the country's defence spending to two percent of GDP, with the extra funding to reach the armed forces "as soon as practically possible".

Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist at the press conference on Monday
Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist at the press conference on Monday. Photo: TT

Speaking at a press conference alongside Mikael Damberg, Sweden’s finance minister, and Peter Hultqvist, the country’s defence minister, she said that increasing the defence budget to two percent of Sweden’s GDP would require spending around 108 billion kronor every year. In 2021, Sweden’s defence budget was roughly 66 billion kronor.

“Sweden’s defence capabilities will be greatly increased,” she said. “The war in Europe is going to affect the Swedish people. We need to continue to strengthen Sweden’s defence capabilities.” 

According to Andersson, the government will ensure that the increase in defence spending is stable and long-term.

A number of Sweden’s opposition parties had already called for Sweden’s defence spending be increased to two percent of GDP, and today’s announcement came on the back of previous parliamentary decisions to increase defence spending.

Under the previous plans, defence spending was due to increase from 66 billion kronor in 2021 to 91 billion in 2025.

Hultqvist warned that it would take time to raise Sweden’s defence capabilities to the new targeted level, while Damberg said that the government would liaise with the relevant authorities to hear their feedback before presented a detailed expansion plan.

Only then, he said, would the government be able to present a deadline for when the goal will be reached.

“In Denmark, they expect to reach this level in 2033,” Damberg said. “Our hope is that we can do it quicker than that.”

The increase in defence spending would require cuts to other areas in Sweden’s budget, he added. 

Hultqvist is currently in negotiations with representatives from all the other parliamentary parties in the Defence Committee, in order to reach an agreement that would allow defence spending to be increased as early as this year, with the money going to extra ammunition, keeping jets in the air, and fuel.

The second stage of negotiations would cover more long-term spending.

The government has not yet announced definitive plans for how much more money would be dedicated to defence spending this year, and whether these would be new funds, or be financed by using next year’s defence funds a year early. 

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MILITARY

IN PICS: The assault ship USS Kearsarge arrives in Stockholm

The USS Kearsarge, a 257-metre amphibious assault ship, arrived in Stockholm on June 2nd. It is in the region to take part in the Baltic Operations (Baltops) military exercise.

IN PICS: The assault ship USS Kearsarge arrives in Stockholm

The USS Kearsarge isn’t the only military vessel expected to arrive in Stockholm for this exercise – around 40 vessels from 13 nations will be arriving and mooring in the capital in the coming days.

Here’s a video showing the ship working its way through Oxdjupet, a strait between two islands in the Stockholm archipelago.

The Kearsarge will be in Stockholm until June 5th.

 

This is the 51st time the Baltops exercise has been held, with this year’s exercise including air defence, submarine detection, mine disposal, amphibious operations and medical exercises.

As well as Sweden, 16 other nations are taking part, with Sweden and Finland coordinating with members of the Nato alliance.

The military exercise is being held in parallel with celebration of the Swedish Navy’s 500th anniversary, and will end on June 17th.

The USS Kearsarge and a Djurgården ferry in Stockholm harbour. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
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