Brussels/Paris, February 14 – Days after former US President Donald Trump implied that Washington might not defend nations that did not spend enough, NATO said on Wednesday that Europe was fulfilling an alliance spending objective and that the US needed allies.
In addition, NATO leader Jens Stoltenberg warned lawmakers that China would become more confident if Russia prevailed in its battle with Ukraine and pleaded with the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to approve a “crucial” multibillion dollar military aid package for Ukraine.

According to Stoltenberg, the European members of the transatlantic alliance will spend $380 billion on defense this year, bringing their overall defense spending to an expected 2% of GDP in 2024 from 1.85% in 2023.
Insinuating that he would support Russia “to do whatever the hell they want” to NATO partners who did not spend enough, Trump startled Europeans on Saturday. The objective of allocating 2% of their GDP to defense has been committed to by the 31 allies, albeit not all of them have done so individually.

After two years of Russia’s full-fledged war against Ukraine, Stoltenberg stated at a news conference in Brussels, “I expect 18 allies to spend 2% of their GDP on defense this year,” adding that overall military spending was set for another record year.
Compared to the previous year, when 11 NATO members were predicted to meet the goal, this year’s figure was higher.
In response to inquiries from media over the fallout from Trump’s remarks, Stoltenberg stated that the US was aware of the defense alliance’s critical role in ensuring US security.

“The United States has never engaged in combat on its own,” he declared prior to a gathering of NATO ministers.
The current increase in military spending by European partners, he continued, was evidence that this message had been received. “The criticism we hear is not about NATO, it is about NATO allies not spending enough on NATO,” he said.


PRESENTING THE UNITED STATES
As Washington battles to approve a $95 billion military aid plan for Ukraine and other members, and prepares for a potential second Trump presidency, NATO officials are concentrated on maintaining the alliance’s dominant military power committed to NATO and the defense of Europe.

“Since this is not charity, I rely on the House of Representatives to approve support for Ukraine.” In an interview with Reuters, Stoltenberg stated, “This is an investment in our own security.”
“Europe cannot be defended by the European Union. Additionally, the secretary general stated that non-EU NATO countries provide 80% of NATO’s defense budget.
Berlin will allocate the equivalent of 71.8 billion euros ($76.8 billion) for defense spending this year through normal and exceptional budget outlays, marking a historic first since the end of the Cold War. The total amount spent on defense, however, remains confidential.

France, the sole nuclear-armed nation in the alliance, might do the same.
French defense spending is expected to rise significantly under the 2024–2030 Military Programming Law, with 413 billion euros allocated over the following seven years. The new budget was first anticipated to account for 2% of GDP starting in 2025, however some sources have indicated that could happen sooner.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, diplomats said NATO’s new approach would have to take into account cautious handling of Trump, tackling issues of great US interest like China and the Indo-Pacific, and further increasing European defense spending.

A “combination of flattery and a firm hand” was one way to put it.
Leading Trump national security advisor Keith Kellogg told Reuters on Tuesday that if the former president is elected again, he will fight for changes to NATO that might mean some members are no longer protected from external attacks.
Since Russian forces invaded the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas and the southern Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in 2014, NATO nations have been gradually raising their defense budgets.

By newsparviews.com

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