World

Swedes boosts defense budget over next 2 years

Sweden's center-left defense minister says lawmakers, including some from two center-right opposition parties, have agreed to boost the Swedish defense budget with an annual extra 2.7 billion kronor ($334 million) over the next two years.

Peter Hultqvist of the Social Democratic Party says it's "an important signal" at a time" where we see increased activity in our vicinity." There has been growing military activity in the Baltic Sea region, including by Russian units.

Hultqvist said Wednesday the money would be used to increase the number of troops, improve training, purchase equipment and maintain old equipment.

The independent Stockholm International Peace Research Institute says non-NATO member Sweden's defense spending in 2016 — totaling 48.5 billion kronor ($6 billion) — was at 1 percent of its gross domestic product.