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Sweden plans massive boost to military budget amid growing tension with Russia

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Sweden's Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist speaking to Euronews Tonight
Sweden's Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist speaking to Euronews Tonight   -   Copyright  Euronews
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Sweden has announced a massive plan to boost its military forces.

It comes amid growing tensions with Russia, which Sweden accused several times in recent years of violating its airspace and waters.

The new investment, which is set to be rolled out between 2021 and 2025, will see a 40% increase in the country's military expenditure - the biggest since the 1950s.

Upon announcing the plan, Swedish defence minister Peter Hultqvist said that "an armed attack" against the country "cannot be ruled out".

Speaking on Euronews Tonight, he listed a series of Russian military initiatives that caused him concern.

"We have the Russian aggression against Georgia, we have the annexation of Crimea against international law, we have the conflict in Ukraine, we have a lot of military activities in the Belarusian area, we have a building of Russian military capabilities in the Kola Peninsula, and we have more activities in the air and on the sea in the Baltic Sea area," he said.

"We have reactivated conscription service, we now have around 5,000 conscripts, and we'll go up to 8,000 in 2025," he added.

"We will also establish new regiments and we will expand the organisation from 60,000 to 90,000 personnel."

Sweden will also aim to add a fifth submarine to its navy, upgrade weapons for the army and air force and step up cybersecurity.

Despite the fact that Sweden is not a member of NATO, Hultqvist said that the country has strong "connections" with its international partners, such as the US, the UK, Germany, Finland and Poland.