Nato states will increase their defence spending by 100 billion dollars in response to Donald Trump’s demands that European allies shoulder a greater financial burden, the alliance’s secretary general has said.
Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday that the alliance had heard Mr Trump’s call for non-US members to shoulder a greater financial burden “loud and clear” and that allies are “stepping up.”
In conciliatory comments apparently designed to smooth over repeated public criticism of other alliance members by the US leader, Mr Stoltenberg said member states had agreed to add $100 billion to defence budgets over the next two years.
Mr Trump has repeatedly complained that other members of Nato do not meet their spending commitments, including a blistering tirade at the NATO summit in Brussels in July in which called other member governments “delinquent.”
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, just stated that because of me NATO has been able to raise far more money than ever before from its members after many years of decline. It’s called burden sharing. Also, more united. Dems & Fake News like to portray the opposite!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 27, 2019
He sent shockwaves through NATO last year when he questioned the alliance’s value to the US. Last week the New York Times reported that he had multiple discussions with his top security advisers in 2018 about withdrawing.
Speaking on Fox News, a channel favoured by the president, Mr Stoltenberg praised Mr Trump’s tough line.
“President Trump has been very clear. He is committed to NATO… but at the same time he has clearly stated that NATO allies need to invest more,” said the former Norwegian prime minister.
“So we see some real money and real results, and we see that a clear message from President Trump is having an impact. NATO allies have heard the president loud and clear. NATO allies are stepping up.”
“What he’s doing is to help us adapt the alliance, which we need,” he added. “This is a clear message to Russia and I think they see that.”
Member nations agreed in 2014 to spend two percent of their gross domestic products on defence by 2024. But only four of the alliance’s 29 countries have already met that target with just 15 expected to reach it by the deadline.
Later on Sunday Mr Trump welcomed the praise, taking credit for the pledge of additional funding.
He tweeted: “Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, just stated that because of me NATO has been able to raise far more money than ever before from its members after many years of decline. It’s called burden sharing. Also, more united. Dems & Fake News like to portray the opposite!”
Mr Trump’s public doubts about the utility of the Nato alliance have alarmed European allies concerned about a repeat of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and invasion of east Ukraine.