Members ?need to deliver more in a more dangerous world,? the secretary general of the US-led military bloc says
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has urged member states to boost their defense spending, saying the US-led alliance expected more countries to meet the 2% of GDP target in 2022.
Stoltenberg was commenting on NATO's annual report, which came out Tuesday, revealing that only seven out of 30 member states fulfilled the 2% spending requirement last year - one less than in 2021, before the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine. NATO had expected the number to reach nine in 2022.
The US, UK, Poland, Greece, Estonia, Greece, Latvia and Lithuania achieved the 2% goal. France and Croatia fell short, with Germany, Türkiye and Canada, lagging further behind, according to the document.
"We actually expected the number to be slightly higher but because GDP has increased more than expected for a couple of allies, two fell below 2%," Stoltenberg told the media at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday.
Overall defense spending by NATO states grew by 2.2% in 2022 compared to the previous year and was "estimated to exceed" $1 trillion, the report said.
However, the bloc's leader insisted that "the pace now, when it comes to increases in defense spending, isn't a high enough."
"My message to allies is that we welcome what they've done but they need to speed up, they need to deliver more in a more dangerous world," he said, referring to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, in which NATO supports Kiev through deliveries of weapons, intelligence sharing and training for the Ukrainian troops.
Moscow has long condemned NATO's support to Ukraine, arguing that it only serves to escalate and prolong the fighting, while failing to change the ultimate outcome of the Russian military operation. According to Russia, this assistance has already made Western nations de-facto parties to the conflict.
NATO leaders are expected to decide on a new spending target for members at a summit in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius in July, with Stoltenberg saying he will "advocate for a more ambitious pledge than the one we made in 2014" as the need to boost the bloc's capabilities "is even more obvious now."