NATO raises defence spending

More European allies in NATO increased defence spending in 2018, with sharp rises in the Baltics, Poland and the Netherlands, but still only six governments met a target sought by the US, while Germany significantly lags, news wires reported.

NATO's annual report released last Thursday showed that the alliance moved closer to a pledge to dedicate 2% of national economic output on defence every year, with European allies reaching the 1.51% level, a five-year high. “At a time when some are questioning the strength of the transatlantic bond, we are actually doing more together ... than ever before,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference.

While spending in Bulgaria, the Baltics and the Netherlands jumped some 20% in 2018 compared to 2017, only Estonia, Greece, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Britain met the 2% goal last year, although Riga and Vilnius joined the group. Romania is also close to reaching to target. European governments have been pushed into more defence funding by Russia's aggressive policy, failing states on NATO's outer borders, Islamist militancy and Trump's demands.

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