A Swedish Air Force JAS-39 Gripen fighter prepares for take off during an April 1 Lithuanian-NATO exercise near Siauliai Zuokniai, Lithunaia . (Petras Malukas / Getty Images)
STOCKHOLM — Sweden announced Tuesday that it will increase its annual defense spending over the next 10 years, citing the crisis in Ukraine and an “unsettling” development in Russia.
The right-wing government said that spending would rise gradually until 2024, when the annual defense budget increase would be around 5.5 billion kronor (€604 million, US $835 million), more than in previous estimates.
The Swedish defense budget for this year was 47 billion kronor.
“The recent past has been characterized by a deeply unsettling development in and around Ukraine,” the government said in a statement.
“Russia has occupied parts of a sovereign state.”
The government said the focus of the increase would be on the Baltic Sea and the Swedish island of Gotland, located in the region.
Sweden, which is not a NATO member, wants to expand its fleet of fighter jets from 60 to 70 JAS-39E, buy two new submarines to reach a total of five and refurbish other ships.
The government said that the growing material spending would be financed by redistributing the defense budget and also by cutting cooperation with Russia in environmental and nuclear energy issues, among other measures.
Sweden’s military preparedness has been questioned in the local media over the last months, especially after Russia caught the Swedish air force off guard during a military exercise simulating an air attack on the country in March 2013.