Robert HARNEIS -TDO- (France)- Sweden is to increase its armed forces from the current 60,000 to 90,000 by 2025. Five regiments are to be reconstituted.
The Swedish Minister of Defense, Peter Hultqvist, commented "Sweden will be affected if crisis or an armed conflict arises in our neighborhood. An armed attack against Sweden cannot be ruled out,” as he presented the defense bill for the next five years.
“This represents the largest increase in the level of defense capabilities in 70 years. The bill is based on the Defense Commission’s proposal for both the civilian and military defense. It is a signal to the Swedish people and our neighborhood that we are taking the security situation extremely seriously,” he said.
There will be a substantial boost for investment in military equipment.
Sweden’s military partly disarmed after the Cold War but has seen a steady increase after Moscow re-united with Crimea and assisted the separatists in Eastern Ukraine in 2014.
The Swedish armed forces will have increased their funding by 85% in fixed prices, according to the defense bill.
Defense Minister Hultqvist said one reason for the increase is to enable improved military cooperation with Norway and Finland in a crisis situation.
Finland Norway and Sweden have recently signed a defense cooperation agreement.
As tension with Russia grows, the Armed Forces are tasked with studying additional measures to strengthen their presence in northern Sweden.
One suggestion is the establishment of border troops aimed to cooperate with Finland and Norway in a sub-Arctic winter environment, minister Hultquist said.
He added: “The proposals in the bill are key to being able to implement the increase of capabilities in military and civilian defense that the Government considers to be necessary. It is a matter of continuing to be able to assert our sovereignty in an increasingly complex security reality.”
Sweden is not a member of NATO but a close partner and regularly trains in joint exercises with NATO countries.
Sweden has managed to avoid military conflict in modern times including in both world wars. The threat of an attack by Russia, despite events on the Black Sea, seems remote and presumably the measures are a reaction to US pressure for European countries to spend more on defense often including the purchase US made equipment.