Record number of NATO countries meet their defence spending target

A record number of more than 20 NATO member countries are meeting the Western military alliance's defence spending target this year, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday, as Russia's war in Ukraine raised the threat of the conflict spreading to Europe, AP reports.

The estimated figure represents a nearly four-fold increase from 2021 in the number of NATO members meeting the alliance's defence spending guideline. Only six nations were meeting the target that year, before Russian President Vladimir Putin's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

"Europeans are doing more for their collective security than they were a few years ago," Stoltenberg said in a speech to the Wilson Center think tank before meeting with President Joe Biden later Monday at the White House.

NATO members agreed last year to spend at least 2% of their gross domestic product on defence. The increased spending reflects concerns about the war in Ukraine.

Some countries are also worried about the possible re-election of former President Donald Trump, who has characterised many NATO allies as dependent on US military spending and said on the campaign trail that he would not defend NATO members that do not meet defence spending targets.

Stoltenberg's visit sets the stage for what is expected to be a crucial summit of NATO leaders in Washington next month. The mutual defence alliance has grown in strength and size since Russia's invasion of Ukraine two years ago, with both Sweden and Finland joining.

Defence spending by many European countries fell after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 appeared to neutralise what was then the main threat to Western security.

But after Russia seized the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in 2014, NATO members unanimously agreed to spend at least 2% of their GDP on defence within a decade. The full-scale invasion Putin launched in 2022 has spurred European countries on the front line of a war in the heart of Europe to devote more resources to meet that goal.

Translation by Iurie Tataru

Bogdan Nigai

Bogdan Nigai


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