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Citing Russia, Swedish armed forces seek doubled budget by 2035

Swedish air defence practice for the first time against attack helicopters as part of the military exercise Aurora 17 on the Swedish island of Gotland, Sweden September 19, 2017. TT News Agency/Anders Wiklundvia REUTERS

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden needs to more than double military spending by 2035 to ensure the country is adequately protected, the armed forces said on Friday, noting Russia had no qualms about using force for political ends.

Annual spending should rise to 115 billion Swedish crowns ($14 billion) per year from around 50 billion now, and active personnel double to around 120,000, they said in a report to be submitted to parliament.

“Russia has through its action in Georgia in 2008, as well as in the Crimea and in East Ukraine in 2014, showed that it does not hesitate to use military force to achieve its political goals,” they said, noting Moscow also planned to increase military spending.

Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014 and support for eastern Ukraine’s separatists have strained relations with the West, with the Baltics now viewed as a flashpoint.

Along with other countries in that region, Sweden has complained of repeated airspace violations by the Russian military and has restationed troops on the strategically important island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea.

Sweden has held military drills with several NATO members and has debated joining the military alliance for years. The Kremlin has warned of unspecified consequences if it did so.

Reporting by Johan Ahlander; editing by John Stonestreet