On the brink of joining NATO, Sweden seeks to boost its defense spending by 28%

STOCKHOLM (AP) — The Swedish government wants to increase the country’s defense budget by 28% as it prepares to join the NATO alliance. The increase would put Sweden on track to reach NATO’s target for military spending to be 2% of a country’s gross domestic product. Sweden’s center-right coalition government unveiled a defense bill Monday and said the defense budget will be increased by $2.4 billion. About $63 million will be spent on Sweden’s future membership of NATO. Sweden and neighboring Finland sought protection under the NATO security umbrella after Russia invaded Ukraine last year. Finland joined earlier this year but Sweden is still waiting.