NATO Hits Major Milestone in Defense Spending in Response to European Security Threats

Written by Jeppe W

Jan.10 - 2024 12:43 PM CET

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Photo: Shutterstock.com
Photo: Shutterstock.com

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In a significant development reflecting its commitment to bolstering defense capabilities, NATO has quietly achieved a crucial spending target, according to Newsweek.

This milestone comes amidst a challenging period marked by Russian aggression in Europe, particularly the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which has tested the resilience and preparedness of the alliance.

As reported by David Brennan, Diplomatic Correspondent for Newsweek, the world’s most potent military alliance has managed to meet two key 10-year spending targets set at the Wales summit in 2014.

By 2024, NATO members aimed to either "move towards" or surpass spending 2 percent of GDP on their militaries, while allocating 20 percent of annual defense spending to major new equipment and related research and development.

Although the majority of NATO nations have yet to reach the 2 percent threshold, all 31 member states have surpassed the 20 percent spending target on new equipment and R&D, as estimated by NATO in July 2023. This achievement represents a significant win for the bloc, which has often been embroiled in disputes over expenditure.

Fabrice Pothier, a former director of policy planning for NATO, highlighted the importance of where the funds are allocated, not just the amount spent. The Russian war in Ukraine underscores the need for NATO to catch up in certain technologies like electronic warfare and air defense. Investing 20 percent in new equipment and technology is vital for maintaining a military edge, including adopting emerging technologies like AI.

This development is crucial for revitalizing NATO's military industrial base, which had been diminished by the post-Cold War "peace dividend" era and decades of low-intensity conflicts. James Rogers, co-founder and director of research at the U.K.'s Council on Geostrategy, emphasized that meeting the 20 percent target stimulates the defense industrial base within the Euro-Atlantic area and beyond.

However, the alliance faces tough decisions on where to allocate this 20 percent. Debates on whether to invest in developing European-grown technologies or to rely on existing systems like the U.S. Patriot and Israeli systems can become highly political.

In the context of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Kyiv continues to urge NATO partners to maintain and even expand military assistance through what is expected to be a challenging winter. NATO's new era may require reevaluation and potentially new spending targets to adapt to the rapidly deteriorating strategic environment.

This milestone is a testament to NATO's adaptability and commitment to strengthening its collective defense capabilities in response to evolving global threats. The alliance's ability to meet its equipment spending goal is a crucial step in ensuring readiness and resilience in the face of growing geopolitical challenges.

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