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From Promises to Payments: NATO Countries Fulfill Defense Pledges

Daniel Kim Views  

AP Newsis

NATO member countries have started to significantly increase their defense spending after observing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for nearly two years. This year, more than half of the 32 member countries are expected to spend the defense cost-sharing agreed upon in 2006 as promised.

According to CNBC, Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg met with U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington DC on June 17.

Stoltenberg told Biden, “NATO allies such as Europe and Canada will increase defense spending by 18% this year, which will be the largest increase in decades.” He emphasized, “23 member countries plan to spend more than 2% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defense this year.” He explained that this is more than double the number compared to four years ago, showing that European allies and Canada are stepping up to share their part of the responsibility to protect all NATO allies together.

NATO, founded in 1949, significantly reduced defense spending after the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1991. According to NATO, last year’s defense spending was $1.3 trillion, of which about 68% or $860 billion was American money. Germany paid the second-highest amount at $68.1 billion, but it was less than a tenth of the U.S. Ministers of NATO member countries agreed in 2006 that all member countries would contribute 2% of GDP to NATO defense cost-sharing. However, as of last year, only 11 out of 31 countries, excluding Sweden who joined NATO this year, kept the 2% promise.

Stoltenberg predicted in his announcement in February that 18 countries will keep the 2% spending by the end of this year. At the same time, he estimated that the defense spending of NATO’s European member countries this year will be a total of $380 billion.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump pressured NATO allies to pay more for defense cost-sharing during his tenure, even threatening the U.S. withdrawal from NATO. Biden, who succeeded Trump, did not use aggressive expressions like Trump but urged European allies to share defense costs.

In his meeting with Stoltenberg, Biden said, “A record number of allies are keeping NATO’s promise to spend at least 2% of GDP on defense,” and “that number has more than doubled since I took office.” He emphasized, “We have together deterred further attacks by Russia in Europe,” adding, “We have strengthened NATO’s eastern front and made it clear that we will defend all NATO territories.”

Before meeting with Biden, Stoltenberg visited the Wilson Center, a think tank in Washington DC, and argued, “European countries are doing more for collective security than they did a few years ago.” Stoltenberg emphasized, “It’s important for the U.S. to know that a significant amount of defense costs are used in the U.S.,” adding, “NATO is good not only for American security but also for American jobs.”

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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