18 NATO countries will reach their military spending target in

18 NATO countries will reach their military spending target in 2024

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the increase in military spending by the alliance states on Wednesday, a few days after Donald Trump's harsh criticism of poor payers in Europe.

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This increase, long demanded by the United States, was loudly recalled last week by the former American president and likely Republican candidate in the November elections.

“We should not weaken the credibility of NATO’s deterrence,” Stoltenberg warned the press on Wednesday, after condemning statements over the weekend that “undermine our security.”

“We must leave no room in Moscow for possible misjudgments or misunderstandings regarding our level of preparation, our commitment and our determination to protect the Allies,” he stressed.

The organization's Secretary General also highlighted the efforts of the European allies over the past ten years.

Eighteen of 31 NATO countries will meet the 2% of GDP target for military spending this year, he said at a conference ahead of a meeting of the alliance's defense ministers in Brussels.

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

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

“The money flowed freely”

However, he immediately emphasized: “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 this 2% is a minimum,” recalled Mr. Stoltenberg.

NATO has not released the list of countries that have met the 2 percent target, but Germany has indicated it will do so this year and France next year.

Nevertheless, the United States remains by far the largest contributor to the NATO budget.

Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 contributed to Europeans investing more in its defense.

But that didn't stop Donald Trump from taking all the credit. The latter reiterated that he had made the alliance “strong” within the framework of 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 American protection, the money started flowing in,” he said. “But now that I'm no longer here saying 'You have to pay,' they're doing it again!”

While his attacks on bad payers within the alliance are nothing new, his comments encouraging Russia to attack one of them were shocking.

“It is a change of scale, a rapprochement with Russia that is dangerous,” emphasized a NATO diplomat.

But above all, these comments demonstrate the need for Europeans – 29 of 31 countries within NATO – to “assume their responsibilities in defense matters,” this diplomat added.

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

And Ukraine also bears this responsibility, another topic at this ministerial meeting.

A meeting of countries supporting the Ukrainian war effort is scheduled for Wednesday on the sidelines of the ministerial meeting, in the absence of US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and while US aid of more than $60 million to Kiev is still blocked in Congress is a veto by Trumpist Republican elected officials.

For their part, French Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu and his German counterpart announced the creation of a coalition of 15 countries whose stated aim is to strengthen Ukraine's air defense capabilities.