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Norway plans $56 billion defence boost to counter Russia



Norway plans  billion defence boost to counter Russia

Norway plans to raise its military spending by an accumulated 600 billion crowns ($56 billion) through 2036 to bolster its defence against Russia and other security challenges, the NATO member country’s government said on Friday.

Overall military spending for the next 12 years is expected to amount to 1.62 trillion crowns, it said.

“This plan represents a historic boost in defence spending, and involves a significant strengthening of all branches of the armed forces,” Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere told a press conference.

The planned annual defence spending in 2036 will, on a comparable, inflation adjusted basis, be around 83% higher than the current level, the finance minister said.

The war in Ukraine has significantly shifted Norway’s discussion on military spending, triggering a debate on how to guard against potential Russian aggression.

The Nordic country shares a border with Russia in the Arctic but has never been at war with its eastern neighbour. “We must expect that Norway will live with a more dangerous and unpredictable Russia for many years,” the government said in a paper delivered to parliament on Friday. “The relationship with Russia will for a long time to come be demanding, and in many ways defining for Norwegian security and defence policy,” it added.

Thanks to its rainy-day sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest with assets of 17 trillion crowns, Norway has access to the cash it needs to fund the increased defence spending without cutting down on hospitals or schools, the prime minister said.

Still, annual government spending from the wealth fund will remain restricted as before to 3% of the overall assets, the government said.

Norway recently announced plans to ramp up defence spending in 2024 to 2% of its gross domestic product, making it the latest NATO member nation to officially adopt a target set by the military alliance.

Oslo had previously said it would meet the 2% target only by 2026. It spent 1.57% of its GDP on defence in 2022, according to NATO.

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