- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 15, 2020

Sweden is rolling out plans to increase its defense spending by roughly 40% over the next five years in an effort to boost its national defense capabilities amid ongoing tensions with Russia.

The Swedish government announced the increase Thursday, saying it will add $3.10 billion (27.5 billion Swedish crowns) by 2025, Reuters reported.

“We have a situation where the Russian side is willing to use military means to achieve political goals,” Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist said. “Based on that, we have a new geo-political security situation to deal with.”

The announcement comes in the wake of increased Russian military activity in the Baltic Sea, which borders the country to the east.

In June, Russian combat jets flew training missions over the Baltic Sea as North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces conducted parallel drills in the region.

Sweden is also expected to use the funds to add roughly 30,000 additional troops. Sweden’s current force stands at 60,000 with a goal of 90,000 within the next five years.

The government is planning to expand the country’s draft to 8,000 per year in the same time frame. Sweden brought back compulsory military service for roughly 4,000 individuals in 2017 after ridding the practice seven years prior.

Stockholm also plans to acquire an additional submarine for the Swedish Navy, while the army and air force will acquire new weapons systems.

• Lauren Toms can be reached at lmeier@washingtontimes.com.

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