Feb 14, 2024 - World

NATO chief says record number of U.S. allies will hit spending target

Jens Stoltenberg holds a press conference at NATO headquarters during the first of two days of defence ministers' meetings on February 14, 2024 in Brussels,

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at a press conference at NATO headquarters on Feb. 14 in Brussels. Photo: Omar Havana / Getty Images

A record number of NATO member states are expected to meet the alliance's defense spending targets this year, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday.

Why it matters: News of the uptick follows recent remarks from former President Trump, who said he'd "encourage" Russia to attack NATO members that didn't meet financial obligations to the alliance.

Driving the news: In 2023, 11 of NATO's 31 members were expected to meet spending targets, Reuters reported.

  • "This year, I expect 18 Allies to spend 2% of their GDP on defense," Stoltenberg said a press conference in Brussels on Wednesday.
  • "In 2024, NATO Allies in Europe will invest a combined total of $380 billion U.S. dollars in defense. For the first time, this amounts to 2% of their combined GDP," Stoltenberg added of the overall spending.

The big picture: Trump's threat drew sharp criticism from the White House, U.S. allies and even some Republicans.

  • Stoltenberg said that many past U.S. administrations have criticized NATO allies' spending, calling it a "valid" point.
  • But he emphasized the alliance's importance in the face of Russian aggression. NATO has "significantly enforced our collective defense" since Moscow's annexation of Crimea in 2014, he said.
  • Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, European allies and Canada have provided more military and economic support to Kyiv than the U.S., he added.

The bottom line: "NATO has been able to prevent a military attack against an NATO ally for 75 years," Stoltenberg said. "And we have done that because it has been absolutely clearly communicated from all NATO allies at any time that we are there to protect all allies."

Go deeper: "No sane American President": Cheney blasts Trump over NATO comments

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