Trump’s threat to Russia against NATO: What US allies spend on defense | News
Former US President Donald Trump sparked strong reactions in Europe after he said Washington may not protect NATO allies from a possible attack from Russia if he wins the November election unless some members of the alliance increase their military spending.
Speaking at a campaign rally on Saturday in South Carolina, the GOP presidential candidate said he told an unnamed leader from a “big country” that is part of NATO that he would “encourage them (Russia) to do whatever the hell they want.” With countries that do not spend enough on defense.
NATO, formed during the Cold War, consists of 31 countries, all of them in Europe except the United States and Canada. Under Article 5 of the treaty that established NATO, an attack on one member triggers a response from all.
Trump has made similar comments about military spending by other NATO members in the past, including when he was president, saying the United States was unfairly bearing the alliance’s defense burden.
But while the real estate developer-turned-politician’s rhetoric about the alliance has not changed, NATO members’ spending is different than it was when Trump was in office.
One of the main reasons: Russia’s war on Ukraine and increased threat perception in Europe.
How much do NATO members spend on defense?
NATO defense spending decreased sharply And after the Cold War – from 4.1% of combined GDP in 1990 to 2.6% in 2000 – even as the group expanded. To boost funding, members agreed at a 2014 summit in Wales to contribute at least 2% of their GDP to the alliance by 2024.
By 2017, when Trump was sworn in as US president, only four countries had reached this threshold: the United States, Greece, the United Kingdom, and Poland. Trump’s argument since then has been that the United States needs to pressure its allies to expand their military budgets.
Seven years later, NATO’s military spending has changed dramatically, although most members still do not allocate 2% of their GDP to defence.
By 2022, the number of NATO countries that have met this requirement has reached eight – the United States, the United Kingdom, Greece, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Croatia.
Then, as the war in Ukraine continued and concerns mounted about Russia’s expansionist ambitions, more European members increased their military budgets. The number rose to 11 in 2023, with Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and new NATO member Finland spending more than 2 percent while Croatia approached the spending threshold.
Luxembourg spends the least (0.7%) compared to its GDP. Belgium (1.1 percent), Turkey (1.3 percent), Spain (1.3 percent), Slovenia (1.4 percent) and Canada (1.4 percent) are other member states at the bottom of the spending pile.
But even as more NATO members increase their spending, the alliance’s dependence on the size and strength of America’s armed forces has increased.
The United States, whose military is the core of the alliance, has consistently spent more than all the other members combined. In 1990, the United States accounted for 61% of NATO’s defense spending. By 2020, the US share had risen to 70 percent.
How did the Ukraine war affect NATO spending?
Many NATO members announced their intention to increase their defense budgets and achieve the 2% target after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. France promised to meet this threshold in 2025, Italy in 2028, Spain in 2029, and Belgium in 2035.
In December the alliance Announce A military budget of 2.03 billion euros ($2.4 billion) for 2024, an increase of 12 percent from 2023.
According to the White House, the United States has provided wartime Ukraine with more financial aid than any other country, $44 billion since 2022.
Experts said that NATO was still unable to achieve its goal in terms of individual military spending, and that the budgets of Western European countries far from Russia, such as Germany, were among the slowest to rise.
From 2021 to 2023, Berlin increased its spending as a share of GDP by 0.1 percent. On the other hand, Poland, Ukraine’s neighbor, almost doubled its spending during that period.
How might a second Trump presidency affect US-NATO relations?
Trump’s recent statements raised concerns within the alliance about the possibility of unrest within NATO if he returned to power.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement: “Any suggestion that allies will not defend themselves undermines the security of our entirety, including that of the United States, and exposes American and European soldiers to increased danger.” The alliance has combined 3.3 million Military personnel.
Trump has had a troubled history with NATO for years, especially as president.
In 2019, Trump told reporters that he withheld nearly $400 million in congressionally approved funding for Ukraine because other NATO members did not contribute in turn.
“I will abstain again, and I will continue to abstain until such time as Europe and other countries contribute to Ukraine, because they don’t,” Trump said at the time. Why does the United States alone pay the money? Germany, France and other countries must provide money.”
Although it is not a member of NATO, Kiev has been seeking to join the alliance for many years, and NATO in turn has stated that protecting the country is a major priority. NATO had 12 members when it was formed in 1949, and analysts pointed out that the alliance’s expansion to include countries of the former Soviet Union threatened Russia’s influence and angered Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Moscow said that joining its neighbor Ukraine to NATO would be an exaggerated step. After Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, NATO increased its aid to Ukraine. The alliance has also increased funds provided to Kiev since Russia launches all-out war in 2022.
Their fellow Republicans denounced Trump’s statements on Saturday. Former South Carolina Governor and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Trump’s only remaining rival for the Republican presidential nomination, told reporters that the last thing the United States wants to do is “side with Russia.”
“Do not side with someone who went and invaded a country and killed or injured half a million people,” she said, referring to Putin.
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