Norway to add millions more to historic increase in defense spending announced last month

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — The Norwegian center-left government said Thursday that it wants to add 7 billion kroner ($630 million) to the Scandinavian country’s armed forces over the next 12 years amid increased tensions in the region.

The announcement came on top of plans announced last month of a “historic increase” of 600 billion kroner ($54 billion) in the oil-rich country’s defense budget over the same period.

“We must increase the operational capability of the Armed Forces,” Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, citing heightened tensions in the region as the reason for the boost.

Gahr Støre said Thursday that the combined budget increase meant that Norway would be able to reach NATO’s goal of military spending of 2% of each member country’s GDP this year. In 2024, the Scandinavian country’s defense budget is expected to increase to 104 billion kroner ($9.4 billion).

Finance Minister Trygve Slagsvold Vedum called it “a strong growth” and said it was “a necessary investment to strengthen our freedom.”

Gahr Støre heads a coalition that includes his own social democratic Labor party and the left-leaning Center Party. He is expected to win support for the proposal in the 169-seat Storting assembly. No date for a vote was set.

On Tuesday, party leaders in the Norwegian parliament announced that the Scandinavian country was donating 7 billion kroner to Ukraine as part of a five-year support package. That comes on top of the 75 billion kroner ($6.8 billion) which Norway already has said it will donate, making it one of the world’s biggest donors to war-torn Ukraine.

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