NATO hawks urge 2% spending target hike after Washington summit

More and more NATO countries want to raise the alliance’s target of having all members spend 2% of their GDP on defense, given the growing Russian threat to the alliance’s eastern flank.

However, they admit that such a commitment – ​​which comes as many member states conclude they need to increase their defence spending – appears out of reach at this week’s summit in Washington.

“We are starting to see a movement towards a new pledge at the summit in The Hague,” Estonian Undersecretary for Defense Policy Tuuli Duneton told Semafor, referring to the alliance’s planned meeting in 2025. “We would like to see 2.5 or 3%.”

While US and European officials have said for months that increasing the defense pledge is not on the agenda for this week’s summit in Washington, “more and more defense ministers are saying that 2% is not enough,” Duneton said.

Estonia is the alliance’s second-largest defense spender by share of GDP, and the Baltic nation has long urged the alliance to do more. But a growing number of European countries that have reached the 2% minimum also appear eager to restart one of the alliance’s most contentious debates.

Polish President Andrej Duda has called for the target to be raised to 3%. British and Latvian officials have openly expressed their desire for a more ambitious figure. Senior EU officials have indicated that similar discussions are taking place behind closed doors.

“We are committed every day to going beyond the 2% minimum,” a European official told Semafor, adding that the current target “is not sufficient given the security situation.”

While 23 of the 32 members are expected to meet the target this year, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has urged that “we must go further.”

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