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After Trump attacks, NATO highlights increasing budgets

Photo: John Thys Agence France-Presse Eighteen out of 31 NATO countries will hit the 2% of GDP target for military spending this year, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday ahead of a meeting of alliance defense ministers in Brussels.

Olivier Baube – Agence France-Presse in Brussels

1:07 p.m.

  • Europe

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the increase in military spending by Alliance countries on Wednesday, a few days after harsh criticism from Donald Trump on bad payers in Europe.

Long demanded by the United States, this increase was thunderously recalled last week by the former American president and likely Republican candidate in the November election.

“We should not weaken the credibility of NATO’s deterrence,” Stoltenberg warned reporters on Wednesday. “We must leave no room for possible miscalculations or misunderstandings in Moscow regarding our level of preparation, our commitment and our determination to protect the Allies,” he asserted.

The secretary general of the organization also highlighted the efforts made by the European Allies over the past ten years.

Eighteen out of 31 NATO countries will meet the target of 2% of GDP in military spending this year, he told a conference ahead of a meeting of defense ministers. Defense of the Alliance in Brussels.

“This is another record number,” he noted, adding that only three countries in 2014 had reached this 2% target.

“We are making real progress, the European Allies are spending more,” he insisted. And there will be eleven in 2023, according to an estimate published by NATO.

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“The money flowed”

However, he immediately pointed out, “some Allies still have a long way to go.” “We agreed at the summit (in Vilnius, Lithuania) that all Allies should invest 2% and that 2% was a minimum,” Stoltenberg recalled.

NATO has not released the list of countries that have reached the 2% target, but Germany has indicated it will be one this year and France next year.

The United States nonetheless remains, by far, the largest contributor to the cumulative military spending of NATO countries.

Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 helped encourage Europeans to invest more in their defenses.

Which didn't stop Donald Trump from taking all the credit. The latter thus affirmed that he had made the Alliance “strong” under his mandate (2017-2021).

“When I told the 20 countries that weren't paying their fair share that they had to pay or they wouldn't get U.S. protection, the money flowed in,” he said. “But now that I'm not here to say 'you have to pay', here they go again! “.

If his attacks against bad payers within the Alliance are not new, his comments encouraging Russia to attack one of them shocked.

“It’s a change of scale, an alignment with Russia which is dangerous”, underlined a NATO diplomat.

However, these remarks above all show the need for Europeans — 29 out of 31 countries within NATO — to “take their responsibilities in matters of defense,” added this diplomat.< /p>

“I think we would do well not to constantly look, like the rabbit to the snake, at the possible Republican candidate for president, but rather to do our homework,” said German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius. , upon his arrival at NATO headquarters.

And this responsibility also passes through Ukraine, another issue of this ministerial meeting.

A meeting of countries supporting the Ukrainian war effort is planned for Wednesday on the sidelines of the ministerial meeting, in the absence of US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

“Rest assured, the United States continues to strongly support Ukraine,” he said in a video message broadcast at the start of this meeting.

French Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu and his German counterpart, for their part, announced the launch of a coalition which will bring together a total of 15 countries with the stated objective of strengthening Ukraine's air defense capabilities.

New $60 million in aid from Canada to Ukraine for F-16 planes

National Defense Minister Bill Blair announced at a NATO summit in Brussels that Canada would make a new contribution of $60 million in support of the establishing a sustainable F-16 combat aircraft capability in Ukraine.

The money will help send equipment considered vital to the F-16, such as spare parts, weapons stations and ammunition.

Canada's contribution is part of $500 million in new funding for military assistance to Ukraine announced last year by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Minister Bill Blair is staying in Europe until Sunday. This Wednesday, he is participating in the 19th meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, hosted by the United States at NATO Headquarters. On Thursday, he will attend a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels.

Finally, from February 16 to 18, Minister Blair will attend the Munich Security Conference in Germany.

The Canadian Press

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116