Stockholm/Moscow: – The Swedish parliament has approved an increase of a whopping 40% in the defence expenditure to counter the threat of Russian aggression. This will take the Swedish defence expenditure to USD 11 billion. This is the first such massive increase in the Swedish defence expenditure in the last 70 years. Only last week, the main parties in the Swedish parliament also adopted the stand to support NATO membership.
Over the last few years, incidences of Russian submarines, warships and fighter jets knocking at the Swedish borders has increased. It had been reported a few years ago that an advanced Russian warship was carrying out surveillance near the Swedish marine limits. Russia had dismissed the report. But against the background of these developments, Sweden had started amending its defence policies.
In 2017, Sweden formed a special commission, and it was entrusted the task of studying the critical issues regarding defence preparedness. The commission submitted its report to the Swedish parliament in 2018. The report recommended that the Swedish defence expenditure should be taken to USD 14 billion, in the next 15 years, inclusive of the factors like Total Defence and Total Mobilisation. Accordingly, Sweden decided to increase its defence expenditure by USD 50 million per year, for the years 2018 to 2020. But the increase proposed this year has proved phenomenal and historic. Sweden justified the historic increase in the defence expenditure, saying, ‘There are indications that the Russian military might will increase tremendously over the next decade. At the same time, the acquisition of Crimea and military movements in Baltic countries also are increasing the concerns. Russia has also made massive deployment on the Kaliningrad military base. Against this background, Sweden must deliver an appropriate message.’
While increasing the defence expenditure, the military personnel capacity also will be increased from the current 55,000 to 90,000. All the military divisions scrapped in the past will be revived. The abilities of the air force and navy also will be majorly increased, and it is said that this will include the induction of advanced missiles. Only a few years ago, Sweden purchased four Patriot Air Defence Systems worth USD 3.2 billion from the United States. Last year, Sweden reactivated the Top Secret Underground Naval Base in the Musko area.