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Sweden to buy Patriot missiles after Trump pressure

Sweden says it has given the authorization to its military to purchase the Patriot air defense missile system from the United States amid what has been cited as rising threats by Russia.

The government in a statement said it had decided to authorize Sweden’s armed forces to purchase a new medium-range air defense system.

The new purchase would replace the current air defense system, which is not capable of shooting down ballistic missiles, according to a report by Reuters.

The deal – with a value of 10 billion Swedish crowns ($1.13 billion) – would also include four firing systems and two types of missiles as well as other equipment and training, according to the statement by Sweden’s government.

Sweden had previously expressed concerns over what it described as worsening security situation in the Baltic Sea region over the past few years.

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It had specifically cited Russia’s actions in Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula as the main reason to start rebuilding its defenses.

The Patriot—a long-range, all-altitude, air defense system— is capable of countering cruise missiles, tactical ballistic missiles as well as advanced warplanes.

The first delivery of the missile system to Sweden would take place in 2020 and would be completed before 2025, according to Reuters.

The government has not clarified how many missiles would be included initially.

Relations between Europe and Russia have been deteriorating since then-Ukrainian territory of Crimea voted in a referendum in 2014 to join Russia. Moscow is being pressed by the West for allegedly supporting pro-Russia fighters in eastern Ukraine, where clashes have left over 10,000 people dead.

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The government of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is also wary of the West’s military buildup near its borders.

The Patriot deal with Sweden comes as many have raised concerns about the increase in Washington’s weapons sales in Europe.

US President Donald Trump has long been pushing America’s allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) – mostly made up of European member states – to increase their military budget. He has even pledged to help smaller NATO countries to buy US weapons.

Some even consider Trump’s efforts as a key goal of his administration to increase the US weapons sales.

Sweden is not a NATO member, but has close ties with the military alliance.

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