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More than 20 of 32 NATO allies spending at least 2% of GDP on defense, Stoltenberg says

<i>Sean Gallup/Getty Images via CNN Newsource</i><br/>NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (R) and U.S. President Joe Biden attend the opening high-level session of the 2023 NATO Summit in July 2023 in Vilnius
Sean Gallup/Getty Images via CNN Newsource
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (R) and U.S. President Joe Biden attend the opening high-level session of the 2023 NATO Summit in July 2023 in Vilnius

By Kayla Tausche and Haley Britzky, CNN

Washington (CNN) — The United States and NATO are expected to announce Monday that the number of allied countries spending at least 2% of their country’s economic output on defense has doubled during President Joe Biden’s term.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is visiting Washington and meeting with Biden ahead of the city’s hosting of the alliance’s annual summit, set to take place in July.

“Just five years ago, there was still less than 10 allies that spent 2% of GDP on defense,” Stoltenberg said during remarks at The Wilson Center in Washington. “I can only now reveal that this year, more than 20 allies will spend at least 2% of GDP on defense.”

“This is good for Europe,” he added. “And good for America.”

It was not immediately clear which countries are not yet meeting the defense-spending benchmarks.

But the number of countries that are meeting those goals has steadily increased since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine two years ago. Several NATO member countries that either border Russia or are nearby have hiked their defense spending since 2022.

At a 2014 summit in Wales, NATO members reaffirmed a commitment to spend a minimum of 2% of their country’s GDP on defense, a pledge with renewed urgency after Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

But only a fraction of the countries met that goal, leading to criticism from former President Donald Trump that the US shoulders too much of the cost of defending Europe.

“I’ve been saying, ‘Look – if they’re not going to pay, we’re not going to protect,’” Trump told a rally audience in February.

For countries that don’t meet those obligations, Trump offered a suggestion that shocked world leaders and key US allies – and raised questions about how the United States would interact on the world stage under a potential new Trump presidency. The former president said he would let Russia do “whatever the hell they want” to such countries, and implied he would not abide by the collective-defense clause at the heart of the NATO alliance if elected.

Biden has heralded NATO as the “greatest defense alliance in the history of the world,” and the alliance has expanded by two member countries since he became president. Finland joined NATO last year, while Sweden joined in March.

Ukraine has aspirations to join the alliance, but Biden said its war with Russia would need to end before NATO could consider the country’s membership.

While US officials tell CNN the White House and NATO leadership have held frequent discussions on the need to increase spending across the alliance, the timing of this week’s announcement would undercut a frequent attack line by Trump ahead of next week’s presidential debate hosted by CNN.

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

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