STOCKHOLM, April 22 Sweden's government said on
Tuesday it would boost defence spending significantly over the
next decade if re-elected, in response to a growing threat from
The centre-right government, trailing in polls ahead of a
national election in September, said it planned to gradually
increase spending up to 2024, buying more fighter jets and
submarines and boosting its military presence in the Baltic Sea.
"In the budget for 2015 we will propose a significant
strengthening of the military," the leaders of the four parties
in the Alliance government said in a signed article in daily
Sweden has been running down its military since the end of
the Cold War, and the Alliance said it had been aware of an
increasing threat from Russia since 2009.
"What we are seeing now is that Russia's actions confirm and
exceed the fears we had then," it added in a clear reference to
Ukraine, where Moscow's annexation of Crimea has triggered the
worst crisis in relations with the West since the fall of
Just over a year ago, Russian planes staged a mock attack on
Sweden, prompting NATO to scramble planes from Lithuania because
no Swedish jets were in a position to respond.
That put Sweden's dwindling military capability under the
microscope, as did earlier comments from the armed forces chief
that the country would not hold out a week against an invasion.
The Alliance said that, under its plan, the annual increase
in spending would reach 5.5 billion Swedish crowns ($832
million) by 2024.
It said the increase would have to be paid for by savings in
other areas, including higher fines for tax dodging, and lower
spending on international peace operations, nuclear safety and
environmental projects with Russia.
The government said it would increase its planned purchase
of 60 fighter jets from defence company Saab to 70.
It would also buy two new submarines and refit three older
ones. Saab recently said it would buy submarine production
facilities in Sweden from Germany's ThyssenKrupp
The leading opposition party, the Social Democrats, have
called for more investment in Sweden's military capabilities.
A cornerstone of Finance Minister Anders Borg's fiscal plans
has been to prioritise returning state finances to a surplus
over coming years after operating an expansive policy during the
($1 = 6.6132 Swedish Crowns)
(Reporting by Simon Johnson and Johan Ahlander; Editing by
Alistair Scrutton, John Stonestreet)