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Sweden Mulls Massive Military Budget Hike to Meet NATO Goal

Swedish minesweeper HMS Koster searching for what the military says is a foreign threat in the waters in the Stockholm Archipelago, Sweden, on October 19 2014InternationalIndiaAfricaThe increase that is reminiscent of the Cold War-era is necessary because the Swedish Armed Forces need to grow. At the same time, the military bears increased costs because of inflation and must replace the arms it has donated to Ukraine — an ever-growing list that includes tanks, howitzers, fighting vehicles and anti-tank weapons.The Swedish government plans to give its armed forces a massive SEK 20Bln ($1.85Bln) boost next year and another fillip of SEK 12Bln ($1.1Bln) the next year.According to Defense Minister Pal Jonson of the Moderate Party, who called this measure «absolutely necessary», this will allow the Nordic country to reach NATO’s stipulated spending target of 2 percent of its GDP.In total, the defense budget is expected to amount to approximately SEK 117Bln ($10.8Bln) next year. The increase has been motivated, among other things, by the Swedish Armed Forces’ need to grow. Furthermore, the Swedish military has run into extra spending because of inflation (including the cost of procured fuel), and must replace the weapons it has given to Ukraine, the list of which already includes armor, howitzers and anti-tank weapons and keeps growing.Jonson even ventured that in the future, Sweden’s military spending may exceed 2 percent, which would indicate a return to the Cold War-era, when up to 3 percent of the Nordic nation’s GDP was spent on its armed forces.MilitaryUS Bombers Debut on Swedish Soil in Historic Drill20 June, 06:34 GMTThe share of spending went down after the end of the Cold War (dubbed «the peace dividend») and reached its nadir of about 1 percent in the late 2010s. Since then, it has soared dramatically, often under the pretext of the hyped-up «Russian threat» — which was conveniently used as a guise for abandoning the formal non-alignment and applying for NATO in 2022.

NATO Bid at Standstill

However, in stark contrast to neighboring Finland, which — although it applied to join NATO at the time as Sweden, has already joined the bloc — Sweden’s bid has hit the skids, and at present its outlook is unclear.Stockholm’s bid ran into opposition from Turkiye, which has accused it of harboring members and supporters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), considered a terrorist group both in Ankara and the West. Starting from early 2023, relations deteriorated further amid a host of provocations occurring on Swedish soul. Among others, an effigy of Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan was hanged, and copies of Islam’s holiest book, the Quran, were burned — including near the Turkish embassy and, most recently, near Stockholm’s main mosque on the first day of Eid al-Adha, one of Islam’s major holidays.WorldTurkish Foreign Minister Slams Another Quran-Burning Incident in Sweden28 June, 17:30 GMTNor is Turkiye the only NATO member which has reservations about the Scandinavian country; Hungary also has a beef with Sweden because of Stockholm’s attacks against Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the ruling Fidesz party’s politics and the overall state of democracy in Hungary. Budapest sees Stockholm’s criticisms as unjustified and has repeatedly called on Sweden to refrain from what it views as meddling and insults.

Military Spending Spree in the North

All the Nordic nations are either planning, or have already railroaded through, massive military budget rises.For instance, the Danish parliament has recently entered a broad framework agreement that involves most parliamentary parties and will set aside an additional DKK 143 billion ($20.1 billion) for the military over the next decade. This has also been touted as means of reaching NATO’s spending target. Similar trends have been witnessed in Norway and Finland, which are also planning weapons procurements and measures to bolster their militaries. All the Nordic nations have significantly depleted their arsenals with massive materiel assistance to Kiev, which stretches from tanks and combat vehicles to missiles and air defenses.

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