Swedes are worried by Russian threat

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The Independent Online
STOCKHOLM (Reuter) - Sweden's Defence Minister, Anders Bjorck, called yesterday for increased defence spending after the strong showing in last week's Russian elections of the militant nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky and his Liberal Democrat party.

Mr Bjorck dismissed calls for Sweden to announce spending cuts of up to 30 per cent when it presents its next defence plan. 'As long as developments in Russia show great uncertainties, demands for cuts in Swedish defence spending must be firmly rejected,' he wrote in the daily Dagens Nyheter.

'What has now happened in Russia - combined with the Russian military forces near Sweden which have not been reduced - means that it is more pressing to also look into increased spending in defence,' he said. He added that it was important to consider increasing defence spending by 30 per cent rather than cutting it by that amount.

Mr Bjorck said that the latest surge in Russian nationalism made it important for Sweden to join the European Union, which it hopes to do from 1995.

He warned of a future scenario in which an aggressive, nationalistic government in Russia poured large resources into rebuilding a strong military, while Sweden stood alone outside the EU.