The Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist said the planned budget increase should be seen against the background of the “deteriorating security situation in the Swedish neighborhood and in Europe”. Analysts told Army Technology that the increase in spending also reflects the resurgence of Russia and its activities in the region.
The full text of the bill proposed on October 14th says that Russia is “breaking” the European security order. She highlighted Russia’s actions in Georgia and Ukraine as evidence of its willingness to use “military means” to achieve “political goals”.
Justin Bronk, research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and editor of RUSI Defense Systems, said, “The Swedish decision to significantly increase defense spending is likely a response to several factors, including continuing extensive modernization of the Russian military Exploration of the airspace and territorial waters, particularly around Gotland, and broader political subversion campaigns are just the most obvious. ”
Thawing seas and regional security
The immediate region of Sweden includes the Baltic Sea and the inlets to the Barents Sea, the North Sea, Norway and parts of the North Atlantic, all areas of strategic importance for NATO and Russia. The bill also cites the impact of Russia and the United States’ withdrawal from the INF (Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces) treaty as an impact on regional security.
From 2021 to 2025, the funds made available to the Swedish Army will be increased by SEK 27.5 billion (£ 2.4 billion). A total of SEK 79 billion (£ 6.9 billion) will be spent on the country’s armed forces during the reporting period.
Hultqvist said, “This is the largest increase in defense capability in 70 years. The draft law is based on the proposal of the Defense Commission for Civil and Military Defense.
“It is a signal to the Swedish people and our neighborhood that we take the security situation extremely seriously.”
The government’s proposal is based on an agreement between the ruling coalition of the Center Party and the Liberal Party.
The country’s increased defense spending must also be seen against the background of the fragmentation of NATO in recent years. Although Sweden is not a member of the organization, it is closely linked to the alliance.
Bronk stated, “Sweden is also likely to be concerned about the political fragmentation of the NATO bloc during the Trump administration and the impact of Brexit on political relations between major European military powers – all of which could encourage the opportunistic Russian leadership to take greater risks than usual Could you.
“For an officially non-aligned country that is a close partner of NATO in terms of exercises and political orientation, this is very worrying and [is] a call for a return to the traditional Swedish policy of well-funded independent military defense capabilities. ”
In addition to its regional neighbors Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Norway, Sweden is also a member of the British Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF). The JEF has been active since 2014.
The bill also highlights the importance of the effects of climate change, with Sweden being an arctic nation. In a recent speech, the UK’s Royal Navy chief First Sea Lord Admiral Tony Radakin highlighted how China can use the thawing seas in the far north to gain access to the North Atlantic.
The opening of once-frozen sea lanes in the waters around the Atlantic will no doubt have an impact on Sweden’s defense plans. The bill adds that “a warmer climate with melting ice” could lead to further confrontations between China, Russia and the US.
Earlier this year, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered an interstate push to develop a new fleet of icebreaker ships by 2029 to bolster the U.S. presence in the polar regions and find a critical stop in the far north.
Acquisition and Expansion
The country will increase the workforce of its armed forces from 60,000 to 90,000. This means that the number of people doing basic training will increase to 8,000 people per year by 2025.
Sweden will also increase its civil protection budget to SEK 4.2 billion (£ 370 million) by 2025. The country’s defense ministry said: “Sweden’s ability to deal with a state of heightened alert and ultimately war needs to be strengthened across the board. ”
The bill includes plans to expand the Swedish submarine force from four to five boats, as well as a statement that the country’s navy should start a program to replace the Gotland-class submarines by 2025 at the latest. The country’s army will also develop a new mechanized brigade and acquire new artillery pieces from 2021.
Bronk added, “The Swedish Armed Forces are also in the midst of several high-end equipment acquisition and upgrade programs, including Gripen’s new E / F fleet of fast jets, as well as various new armored vehicles and artillery platforms.
“In addition to the perceived need to increase the size of the forces Sweden could fall back on in a crisis, these equipment programs also ensure that a significant portion of new investment is indirectly reinvested in the Swedish economy.”
The Total Defense Bill also stipulates that Sweden should begin preparations to acquire new surface ships to replace the Gävle-class corvettes in service and deliver two new ships between 2026 and 2030. It is also described that two more corvettes will be procured in 2030.
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