Members of the Swedish parliament called on the government to formally announce that the country must open up the possibility of potential NATO membership. This decision was taken by an overwhelming majority.
The country is in favor of having a “NATO membership option” to enhance its security and security cooperation.
“We urge the government to take this step through an announcement. The option of joining NATO means that Sweden allows the possibility of considering membership in the Alliance and must closely monitor developments in the international security situation, ” the parliament said in a statement.
In turn, The Times reports that Sweden has decided to carry out the largest update of the armed forces since the 1950s and are thinking about abandoning the long-standing policy of non-alignment and joining NATO due to the “surge of military activity” of Russia in the Baltic Sea, North Atlantic and the Arctic …
According to the recently adopted budget, the size of the army in the next 4 years will grow from 60 thousand to 90 thousand, and annual defense spending will reach 1.5% of GDP, increasing immediately by 40%. At the same time, Sweden plans to invest in new or converted submarines, fighters, armored vehicles, artillery, and reconnaissance aircraft.
Under the new national defense strategy, it is assumed that most of the equipment will be purchased from Swedish arms manufacturers and their Scandinavian partners.
The six squadrons of the Swedish Air Force are expected to be reinforced with the C / D and E / NG models of the new generation of Saab JAS-39 Gripen fighters. In addition, there is a possibility that Sweden will acquire its first long-range air-to-ground missiles. Also, the armed forces will receive modernized armored cars and self-propelled howitzers.
The fleet is modernizing the Gotland class submarines and will be reinforced with two Blekinge class submarines. According to the Times, the number of conscripts in the Swedish army will increase from 4 thousand to 8 thousand. Six previously disbanded regiments will be restored, and a new motorized brigade will be created in the Stockholm area.
Three army regiments will be deployed in the sparsely populated northern part of the country. They can provide support if NATO forces need to move east of the US Marine supply base on Norway’s west coast.
As Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultkvist told the Times, all this is happening “against the background of the development of aggression in Georgia and the annexation of Crimea by the Russian side, as well as the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.