Mattis: NATO Allies Must Increase Defense Spending
Mattis Demands NATO Allies To Increase Defense Spending
Alliance members have pledged to raise military spending to 2 percent of GDP, but some countries are moving slowly towards this goal
US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis on Wednesday will demand from European allies to fulfill pledges to increase military budgets, while the US proposes to increase its own military spending in Europe.
Allies have unveiled plans for the first time showing how they will meet the target of spending 2 percent of GDP on defense by 2024, after US President Donald Trump threatened to strip US support of low-cost allies.
Fifteen of the 28 countries, excluding the United States, have developed a strategy to achieve the stated NATO goal, which was first agreed in 2014 in response to the Russian annexation of Ukrainian Crimea after years of European military budget cuts.
It is unclear whether that will be enough to impress US President Donald Trump when he arrives at the NATO summit in July. While France plans to increase defense spending by more than a third from 2017 to 2025, Spain has said it will miss its target by 2024. Belgium and Italy also lag behind.
Germany’s projected billion-euro spending growth will also not be enough to reach 2 percent by 2024.
Mattis is likely to take a tough line, says Kathy Wilbarger, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security.
“He will reach out to those who do not yet have national plans to meet the 2 percent requirement and say they really need to develop such plans,” she told reporters..
According to NATO, the UK, Greece, Romania and the Baltic states – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have already reached or are close to achieving the 2 percent target. France and Turkey are among the countries that must achieve this goal in the foreseeable future.
One challenge relates to the formulation of the 2014 expenditure commitments. NATO members have pledged to “move aside” 2 percent, while Trump says spending at 2 percent is “the absolute minimum”.
Trump also set an example by proposing a $ 1.7 billion increase in military spending in Europe in 2019, while the US spearheads NATO’s efforts to contain Russia..
However, U.S. officials have also raised confusion over their support for a new EU defense policy coordination agreement that will allow countries to band together to buy weapons..
“We would not want the EU’s efforts to affect NATO demands or lead to an outflow of activities from NATO to the EU,” Wilbarger warned..