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Record number of NATO allies meet military spending targets

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President Biden and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced Monday that a record number of allies are meeting their military spending commitments as the two leaders sought to mount a strong and firm response to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Biden and Stoltenberg met ahead of NATO’s annual summit in Washington next month, where members are expected to discuss additional measures to help ensure Ukraine’s long-term security, funding and eventual membership. Stoltenberg announced Monday that NATO was ready to play a larger role in Ukraine’s security in the meantime.

“I expect that when we meet next month we will agree to a role for NATO in providing security assistance and training,” Stoltenberg said. “This will reduce the burden on the United States and strengthen our support for Ukraine.”

The goal was made possible in part by a surge in the number of allies fulfilling an informal pledge to spend at least 2 percent of gross domestic product on the military. When NATO allies made the pledge in 2014, only three members, including the United States, had met the goal, Stoltenberg said. About five years ago, about 10 members had met the goal, and this year more than 20 of NATO’s 32 members will do so, he said.

Stoltenberg also said allies had increased their military spending by 18 percent this year – the biggest increase in decades.

The assurances from the two leaders come amid renewed questions about the NATO alliance and commitment to Ukraine. Military aid to Ukraine has been temporarily delayed by a congressional deadlock, and Russia has made recent gains on the front lines. Biden’s main rival in the November election, former President Donald J. Trump, has expressed doubts about the value of aid to Ukraine and NATO itself.

But Biden made clear in his pre-meeting remarks that he considers NATO vital. “Together, we deter further Russian aggression in Europe,” he said.

Next month’s summit is expected to build on efforts made by Western allies at last week’s Group of Seven summit in Italy, which included approving a $50 billion loan to Ukraine to unlock frozen Russian assets and Biden and President Zelensky signed a new 10-year security agreement This will provide training and equipment to the Ukrainian military.

Increased spending by NATO allies could undermine Trump’s line of attack, as he has long criticized other NATO members for not paying their fair share. But his possible return to the White House is a relief for other NATO members. Concerns about the future of the alliance.

Trump has threatened to withdraw from NATO if European countries do not increase spending. In February, Trump also said he would encourage Russia to “do whatever it wants to them” if NATO members did not pay their military expenses. This month, More than 40 House Republicans The vote was to stop funding the organization, arguing that too many members were not meeting their 2% pledge.

exist Speech at a Washington think tank Ahead of his meeting with Biden on Monday, Stoltenberg appeared to acknowledge that Trump’s allies in Congress had caused difficulties for Ukraine by withholding $60 billion in aid that was finally approved in April. He said “serious delays and gaps in aid” led to “consequences on the front lines” this winter and spring.

“We cannot let this happen again,” Stoltenberg said. “That is why at the summit, I want allied leaders to agree that NATO will lead the coordination and delivery of security assistance and training to Ukraine. That is also why I am proposing a long-term funding commitment, with new funds provided each year.”

“The more credible our long-term support is, the faster Moscow will realize it can’t wait for us to end the war, and the faster this war will end,” Stoltenberg said.

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