Sweden Bolsters Defense Spending by 28% Ahead of Prospective NATO Membership

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The Swedish administration announced on Monday its intent to inflate its defense budget by 28%, aiming to fulfill NATO’s military expenditure target of 2% of gross domestic product. This strategic upturn in defense spending comes as the Nordic nation gears up to join the multinational alliance.

In the current global climate, dubbed as the gravest security situation since the close of World War II, the requirement is for a vigilant, prepared and active defense capable of safeguarding Sweden’s sovereignty, underscored Defense Minister Pal Jonson.

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At the helm of the defense budget, set for 2024, the centrist coalition government disclosed an increase in military expenditure totaling 27 billion kronor or approximately US$2.4 billion. Around 700 million kronor (around US$ 63 million) is earmarked for aiding Sweden’s prospective incorporation into NATO.

Despite its pivot towards the NATO alliance, Sweden is also committed to maintaining its support for Ukraine, and is modifying its defense plans and military drills to align with NATO objectives, noted Mr. Jonson.

In the wake of the Russian attack on Ukraine, both Sweden and its neighbor Finland, sought refuge under the protective shield of NATO last May. Abandoning its longstanding history of military neutrality, Sweden is now poised at the threshold of NATO, awaiting to become its 32nd member. This comes after Finland’s successful induction earlier this year.

However, the path to accession remains labyrinthine, relying on unanimous approval by all existing member states. Solidarity has been lacking, with Turkey in particular stalling Sweden’s membership, due to unfulfilled extradition requests concerning suspects linked to Kurdish militia. Discontent has also spiraled stemming from public demonstrations in both Sweden and Denmark involving the desecration of Islam’s holy scripture, the Quran.

The capital of Lithuania, Vilnius, played host to a NATO summit in July where Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed Turkey’s intent to overturn its veto of Swedish membership after holding it in abeyance for a year. Notwithstanding, the stride towards membership must still be ratified by Turkey’s parliament as well as Hungary.

The tripartite government of Sweden, comprised of the conservative Moderates, the Christian Democrats and the Liberals, has managed to secure a majority in the Swedish parliament, with the support of the Sweden Democrats. This far-right party has transitioned from being the perceived outsider to a key player in the Swedish political landscape.