Sweden should spend more on defense and increase the number of conscripts, lawmakers recommend

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Sweden should increase its annual military budget by nearly 54 billion kronor ($5 billion) by 2030 to strengthen its air defenses and beef up the number of conscripts, a Swedish parliamentary committee recommended Friday.

The Scandinavian country joined the NATO alliance in March, moving away from a decades-long policy of neutrality in the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

The report by the Defense Committee, which is made up of representatives of the eight political parties sitting in the Swedish parliament, said that NATO membership and the serious security situation require higher ambitions.

“An armed attack against Sweden or our allies cannot be ruled out,” the commission said in its report entitled “Strong defense capability, Sweden as an ally.”

Sweden’s air defense must also be expanded to meet threats from unmanned flying craft, more hunting and cruise missiles must be purchased and the navy should receive more personnel, according to the nearly 300-page report. It also suggested that the number of conscripts should gradually be increased to 12,000 in 2032. Presently there are about 8,000 conscripts in Sweden.

The recommendation follows similar moves in its two Scandinavian neighbors, both of them longstanding NATO members. Earlier this month, Norway said it would gradually increase the number of conscripted soldiers from 9,000 at present to 13,500 by 2036. Meanwhile, Denmark last month said it wants to increase the number of young people doing military service by extending conscription to women and increasing the time of service from four months to 11 months.

Swedish news agency TT quoted Defense Minister Pål Jonson saying the defense committee’s proposal was “necessary in light of the serious security policy situation in the world.”

Sweden’s current military budget for 2024 is about 119 billion kronor ($11 billion).

The center-right, three-party coalition of Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson is likely to follow most of the commission’s recommendations in the report, which was presented Friday.

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