Twin announcements from Germany and Sweden offer hope that Western Europe may finally be spooked enough to start paying more for defense. First up is Germany, which has announced a plan to increase its military spending significantly, Defense News reports:
The German government under Chancellor Angela Merkel has approved plans to increase defense spending by 6.2 percent over the next five years — an extra €8 billion (US $8.5 billion) by 2019.In 2016, the defense budget will rise by €1.2 billion to €34.2 billion. The extra funds will allow the defense ministry to push ahead with plans to reform and expand its armed forces as well as commit to a “widened NATO engagement,” according to the draft budget. That includes involvement in the NATO response force to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which Merkel has warned could take a long time to resolve.
Meanwhile, a nervous Sweden is bolstering its naval capacity in the Baltic in a big way. (Perhaps the Russian sub that was sighted lurking in its waters in October has something to do with the decision.) The Swedish Armed Forces Command asked for up to $2 billion for naval defense, and the government has now approved $700 million in funding for the surface fleet and a further $950 for two of the new A26-class subs.Closer to the threat, a spate of Eastern European countries are looking at conscription measures to ensure a standing army that is properly staffed and well prepared. In Poland, which has an upcoming election, 80 percent of respondents to a recent poll said they were in favor of reintroducing conscription (it ended in 2009). That’s an 8 percent increase in the past four months alone. In Lithuania’s parliament, 112 out of 141 ministers voted for a bill on March 19 to reinstate conscription for the next 5 years in response to Russian aggression in Ukraine. Meanwhile, in the Czech Republic, the Defense Ministry is drafting a bill to submit to parliament that would require men and women over 18 to serve.Well, Mr. Putin, you are getting your wish; people are beginning to take you seriously as a threat. If Europe keeps this up, you may even have that evil Western alliance working to contain Russia you keep going on about.