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23 NATO members on track to meet 2 percent GDP spending goal

President Biden on Monday welcomed as good news the announcement that 23 countries in the 32-member NATO alliance are on track to spend two percent of their GDP on military defense this year, an important benchmark established in 2014.

“We have a very important announcement to make today: A record number of allies are meeting NATO’s commitment to at least 2 percent of their GDP on defense,” Biden said in remarks at the White House, ahead of a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Stoltenberg said that 23 members of the alliance will spend at least two percent of their GDP on defense in 2024. NATO allies agreed in the 2014 summit held in Wales that member-states would increase their respective domestic defense spending to two percent of their GDP. 

“Just five years ago, there were still less than 10 Allies that spent 2 percent of GDP on defense,” he said in remarks delivered earlier Monday at the Wilson center. 

“This is good for Europe and good for America. Especially since much of this extra money is spent here in the United States,” Stoltenberg continued, part of a pitch to shore up American support for NATO that is under attack from former President Trump. 

Trump has repeatedly criticized NATO allies for not spending more on defense. The presumptive Republican nominee has been a vocal critic of the NATO alliance and has threatened to withdraw the U.S. from the alliance, or hold back American commitments to the defense of all members who have yet to increase their defense spending to meet the two percent mark.

Biden said on Monday that the number of countries in the alliance meeting the two percent spending mark “more than doubled” since January 2021.

The statistic marks a key argument for Biden’s reelection campaign surrounding his leadership in NATO and his support for the defensive-military alliance. 

Trump’s supporters say that his antagonistic rhetoric has spurred allies to increase their defense spending. But the former president’s critics say his threats against the alliance undermine trust in the U.S. commitments.

Biden will host NATO’s 75th anniversary summit in Washington in July. The summit is meant to serve as a celebration of the alliance’s history but will also serve as a pivotal meeting to demonstrate support and resolve for Ukraine in its war against Russia and ahead of an uncertain American election. 

Allies worry that a potential Trump re-election will see the U.S. pull back on its participation in NATO, threaten its unity, or push Ukraine into a ceasefire with Russia on terms more preferable to Moscow. 

At the summit, NATO allies are expected to announce a number of initiatives to institutionalize the alliance’s support for Ukraine and that serve to take over the leadership role currently held by the U.S. This includes NATO taking the lead on organizing weapons procurement and deliveries for Ukraine, currently led by the U.S.; and a long-term financial pledge. 

Source: The Hill

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