Stars and Stripes
June 3, 2022

Austin and NATO secretary-general agree to push allies to boost military spending ahead of major alliance summit

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg agreed Thursday to prod NATO member nations to contribute [a larger] share to the military alliance as it confronts…Russia.

Austin and Stoltenberg said the recommended defense spending guideline for NATO allies – 2% of a nation’s gross domestic product – is a bare minimum that needs to be exceeded. The two met ahead of a consequential NATO summit in Spain later this month that will see the alliance unveil the first major document laying out its priorities since 2010 and consider new membership applications from Finland and Sweden.

“We need to make sure that we continue to ensure that NATO allies are investing more,” the secretary general said. “Across Europe and Canada, we have seen now seven consecutive years of increased defense spending and more and more allies are meeting the 2% guideline.”

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Stoltenberg praised the significant role the U.S. continues to play in helping Ukraine…The White House announced a $700 million military aid package on Wednesday that will arm Ukrainians with highly sought-after rocket systems critical for the long-range fight in the eastern Donbas region.

…The U.S. surged 20,000 service members to reinforce NATO’s eastern flank over the last few months and is poised to decide at the NATO summit on the future force posture in Europe.

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NATO in March boosted the number of battlegroups in Eastern Europe from four to eight and traditionally neutral [sic] Finland and Sweden made the historic decision last month to apply to join the alliance.

Stoltenberg has expressed confidence that NATO will unanimously agree to expansion even as Turkey voices opposition. Senior officials from Sweden, Finland and Turkey are expected to convene in Brussels in the coming days to address Turkey’s complaint that the two Nordic countries support Kurdish militants.

The secretary-general’s visit to the Pentagon followed a meeting at the White House on Thursday and a joint news conference with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday.

With the war in Ukraine set to reach its 100th day on Friday, Stoltenberg warned the West on Thursday to brace for a “war of attrition.”

“We just have to be prepared for the long haul,” he told reporters after meeting with President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

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