Most NATO states will cross the thereshold of 2% of GDP in defence expenditure

Washington:  Outgoing NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said that 18 of NATO’s 31 member alliance are expected to spend at least 2 per cent of their GDP on defence this year.

“That is another record number and a six-fold increase from 2014 when only three allies met their target,” Stoltenberg said on Wednesday ahead of a meeting between the alliance’s defense ministers in Brussels to be followed by a Security Alliance meeting in Munich in Germany.

US Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken are attending both of the NATOS meeting to assuage the feelings of members seriously concerned over US role since 2024 frontrunner in GOP primaries former US President Donald Trump brought up renewed scrutiny to the issue of defense spending among NATO members last weekend.

Trump reportedly said at a campaign rally in the home state of Nikki Halley, his opponent, in South Carolina, that he would encourage Russia to do “whatever the hell they want” to any NATO member country that doesn’t meet spending guidelines on defence.

Biden, Harris and Blinken had took strong exception to Trump’s remark. Republican Nikki Haley had also took exception to the Trump’s statement.

NATO Secretary General’s statements on member countries spending on defence assumed significance in that context as Trump’s statement effectively undercut the collective defence clause at the heart of the treaty.

Stoltenberg said on Monday that such comments put European and American soldiers at an increased risk.

“Any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security, including that of the US, and puts American and European soldiers at increased risk,” Stoltenberg said, according to CNN.

The NATO chief acknowledged on Wednesday that criticism of members not spending enough was “a valid point … and a message that has been conveyed by successive US administrations, that European Allies and Canada have to spend more, because we haven’t seen fair burden sharing in the alliance.”

To achieve an equitable share to take the burden, ten years ago NATO members pledged to increase their defence spending to 2 per cent of GDP for each country. Among the countries to hit the target recently is Germany.

The German Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that its 2024 budget will see its defense spending meet the 2 per cent threshold for the first time since the early 1990s.

As a whole, NATO’s European allies are expected to spend 2 per cent of their combined GDP on defense for the first time this year.

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