Sweden boosts military spending, cuts nuclear safety aid

Nuclear waste ship "Lepse" holds several hundre spent nuclear fuel rods. Safe decommissioning of the vessel is on EBRD's list of nuclear safety priorities in Northwest-Russia.

A step-by-step increase up to SEK 5,5 billion will be added to the annual defense budget following the Ukraine crisis. The cash will partly come by cutting spending on environment and nuclear safety cooperation with Russia.


Prime Minister Frederik Reinfeldt and his government’s coalition partners say in an op-ed in newspaper Dagens Nyheter that the Ukraine Crisis heightens risks. 

“The recent past has been characterized by a deeply disturbing development in and around Ukraine. Russia has occupied parts of a sovereign state. With directed demonstrations, threaths of restricted natural gas supply and a powerful propaganda machinery act to deliberately destabilize Ukraine. All backed by presence of more troops,” writes Reignfeld and the three other party leaders in the Swedish government.

The defense budget will increase year-by-year towards 2024 when annually SEK 5,5 billion (€605 million) more will be available. 

Sweden will buy another 10 fighter jets and increase the Nordic military cooperation.

Sweden’s Defense budget for 2014 is SEK 46 billion (€5,06 billion), so the increase from today’s level will amount to around 12 percent.

The government suggests buying another ten of the multirole fighter aircraft JAS 39 E and two more submarines. The plan also includes upgrading the existing three Gotland-class submarines and two of the corvettes. 

The government says the increased defense spending will be partly finances by cutting spending on environment and nuclear safety cooperation with Russia. Sweden has since the mid-90ties provided funds to the international nuclear safety cooperation on Russia’s Kola Peninsula. 

Swedish funding has been spent in the infamous Andreeva-bay where highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel elements from Russia’s submarine fleet are stored in run-down facilities. Increased safety at the radon radioactive waste facility outside Murmansk was co-financed by Norway and Sweden, and a huge portion of Sweden’s nuclear safety aid over the last 20-years have been directed towards Leningrad and Kola nuclear power plants.

Since 2002, Sweden has participated in the Dutch treat for Andreeva bay nuclear waste site, administrated by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The project aims at securing, repacking and transporting away the 21,000 spent nuclear fuel assemblies stored, in addition to securing thousands of cubic meters of radioactive waste in the area. Few places in the world are so large amount of highly radioactive waste stored in such bad conditions as here. Andreeva bay is less than 60 kilometers from Russia’s Arctic border to Norway.

County Governor of Finnmark, Gunnar Kjønnøy, leads several of Norway’s bilateral nuclear safety projects with Russia.

Gunnar Kjønnøy is County Governor of Finnmark and heads Norway’s bi-lateral projects with Russia in the Andreeva bay. He says Sweden’s possible withdrawal from projects in the Andreeva will not affect their projects.

“We plan to sign the 2014-agreement including four projects in Andreeva bay with Murmansk Governor Marina Kovtun on May 16th. Our four projects for this year are preliminary works aimed at making it possible to do the removal of the spent nuclear fuel,” says Gunnar Kjønnøy to BarentsObserver.

Governor Kjønnøy admits that his office has not yet received the assignment and budget allocation letter yet from the authorities in Oslo. It is Norway’s Radiation Protection Authorities that, on behalf of the Foreign Ministry, administrate the nuclear safety cooperation with Russia.