NewsRobust NATO is in U.S. national security interest, says head: an increase in defense spending, support for Ukraine, and record approval rates highlighted

Robust NATO is in U.S. national security interest, says head: an increase in defense spending, support for Ukraine, and record approval rates highlighted

NATO Chief on Trump's words. Clear message.
NATO Chief on Trump's words. Clear message.
Images source: © EPA, PAP | OLIVIER MATTHYS
3:41 PM EST, February 15, 2024

Stoltenberg expressed his belief at a conference by NATO defense ministers in Brussels that the US would remain an active NATO member for at least three reasons. Firstly, a strong NATO alliance serves the United States' national security interests. Secondly, significant bipartisan support exists for the Alliance within the United States. Lastly, criticism towards NATO from the US concerns NATO allies who do not sufficiently fund the organization, rather than NATO itself," said Stoltenberg.

He emphasized that for many years, the US has correctly noted that European allies and Canada have not adequately invested in defense. However, he also acknowledged that this has changed considerably as defense spending has increased in Canada and Europe.

Stoltenberg highlighted that current poll statistics show that support for NATO is at a record high in the United States and Europe.

He expects 18 NATO member states to allocate 2% of their GDP to defense by the end of the year. This is a six-fold increase from just three countries in 2014. By 2024, NATO allies in Europe will have invested 380 billion US dollars in defense. "This constitutes 2% of their total GDP for the first time. We still have a way to go, but we have already achieved a historic breakthrough," he commented.

NATO defense ministers discuss supporting Ukraine and increasing ammunition production in Brussels

The NATO defense ministers' meeting in Brussels also addressed the need to increase ammunition production.

"To restock our supplies and continue to assist Ukraine, a shift from the slow pace of peacetime to the rapid production warranted by conflict is necessary. This requires manufacturers to have secured contracts, and in the past few months, NATO has signed contracts valued at ten billion dollars. This assists Ukraine, strengthens NATO, and generates more skilled jobs in Europe and North America," the Norwegian noted.

At the conference, Stoltenberg informed the audience that discussions were held around the worsening security environment. "We must never take peace for granted. However, we currently do not foresee any direct military threat to the Alliance", he added.

"NATO is committed to leaving no room for misjudgment by Moscow about our readiness to protect all allies. We are conducting 'Steadfast Defender,' the largest NATO exercise in decades, involving approximately 90,000 soldiers from all 31 allies and Sweden. It tests our ability to mobilize forces to protect our eastern flank swiftly," he explained.

"NATO provides 99% of all military aid to Ukraine"

The NATO-Ukraine Council also came together on Thursday.

"Defense Minister Umierow updated the allies about the latest developments. We reiterated the significance of sustaining our support. Over the past few days, we have seen the announcement of new aid packages from allies, including Canada, Finland, and Norway. These consist of spare parts for F-16s and air defense systems. A group of allies plans to deliver a million drones to Ukraine. Additionally, 20 NATO members have agreed to form a coalition to handle demining. All these measures will help to save the lives of Ukrainians," said Stoltenberg.

He added that NATO allies collectively account for 99% of all military aid to Ukraine. "Since Russia's invasion, the United States has provided about 75 billion dollars worth of military, financial, and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Other NATO allies and partners have contributed over 100 billion US dollars. Thus, our support represents real transatlantic burden-sharing," he emphasized.

Stoltenberg also discussed the creation of a new NATO-Ukraine Joint Center for Analysis, Training, and Education in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

"This center will allow Ukraine to share the lessons learned from the war with Russia. It will also create an environment where Ukrainian forces can learn and train with their allied counterparts. We will continue to stand by Ukraine for their safety and our own," said the head of NATO.

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