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Swedish PM Seeks Increased Military Spending to 2% of GDP

FILE : Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson speaks during a news conference regarding the security situation in Europe, at Rosenbad in Stockholm, Sweden, February 27, 2022.

Citing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said Thursday the country’s military spending needs to be increased substantially and seeks to raise it to 2 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) as soon as possible.

Speaking to reporters about the plan in Stockholm, Andersson said her government is presenting a clear message to the Swedish people and the world that the nation’s defense capability “must be greatly strengthened.”

She said the security situation in “Sweden’s vicinity” has deteriorated over time and the Russian attack on Ukraine further exacerbates that.

At the same news conference, Swedish Finance Minister Mikael Damberg said Sweden’s current military budget is at about $7.18 billion – about 1.3 percent of the nation’s GDP. Andersson set no specific timeline to reach the 2 percent level but indicated she would like to do so within the decade.

Andersson said increased defense spending also means young people should be prepared to do military service.

The 2 percent goal is the same figure that NATO requires for its members, although reports say many member nations fall short of its target.

Although not a member, Sweden has close cooperation with the alliance and neighboring Denmark is a founding member.

During the Cold War, Sweden dedicated up to 4 percent of its gross domestic product to the defense budget but slashed its spending during the 1990s and early 2000s, to around one percent. That began to change in 2014 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted several European nations, including Germany and Denmark, to increase their defense spending.

Some information for this report was provided by the Reuters and Agence France-Presse.