The general secretary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Jens Stoltenbergwarned on Tuesday that the members of the alliance are not increasing their defense spending fast enough before Russian attack on Ukraine.
In 2014, after Russia annexed the crimean peninsulathe 30 NATO allies pledged to try to increase their spending to 2% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2024.
However, NATO’s annual report, released this Tuesday, shows that only seven alliance members reached that total in 2022 (Greece, United States, Lithuania, Poland, United Kingdom, Estonia and Latvia).
In 2020 there were 11 members with that level of expenses, and in 2002 it fell to eight.
“Many allies have promised significant increases in defense spending since the invasion of Russia (…) Now these promises must be turned into actual cash, concrete contracts and equipment”, Stoltenberg said at a press conference.
In Stoltenberg’s view, the drop in the number of countries that achieved the 2% commitment is explained by the fact that national economies had performed better than expected, and this made their defense budgets appear proportionally lower.
The United States is by far the country with the highest military spending, accounting for approximately 70% of NATO spending in 2022, of more than a trillion dollars.
Overall spending of European members and Canada increased by 2.2% in 2022says the annual report of the military alliance.
“Since 2014, the allies have increased defense spending and we are moving in the right direction. But we are not moving as fast as the dangerous world we live in demandsStoltenberg said.
“So while I appreciate all the progress that’s been made, it’s obvious we need to do more, and we need to do it faster,” he added.
The alliance is now seeking to set a new spending target at its July summit in Vilnius, at which allies must agree that 2% be considered a “floor, not a ceiling” for each country’s spending.
“In this new and more contested world, we cannot take our security for granted,” Stoltenberg said.
Stoltenberg also said Tuesday that he was “absolutely sure” that Sweden will be a member of the Alliance in the future, but avoided setting the date on which the Nordic country will enter the transatlantic organization.
The Norwegian politician expressed himself in this way after the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, announced the start of the ratification process by its Parliament for the entry of Finland, a country that, after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, asked together with Sweden to join NATO. Thus, both States ended their neutral tradition.
Erdogan pointed out that Ankara considers it necessary to separate the Swedish process from the Finnish one, arguing that Stockholm does not comply with the demands to extradite people that Turkey considers linked to terrorist organizationsespecially from the Kurdish sphere.
For Finland and Sweden to be full members of NATO, it is necessary that all the countries that currently make up the Alliance ratify the entry of these two countries.
hungary and turkey They are the only ones that have not yet given the green light for the Nordic countries to join, but both intend to approve Finland’s accession soon.
Stoltenberg assured that these delays are not affecting or postponing the process of military integration of Sweden and Finland into NATO, which “goes ahead.”
(With information from AFP and EFE)
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