Stoltenberg urges NATO allies to up defence spending despite pandemic crisis

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has insisted that allies reach defence spending targets, despite economic issues triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, dpa reported.

"I see the economic downturn in the member states and I know that increased spending is needed in many areas to counteract it," NATO chief told the German daily Die Welt in comments published on Wednesday. But he noted that the security threats and challenges that existed before the crisis have not diminished during the pandemic. "Russia is continuing to upgrade its military forces, the global balance of power is shifting due to the rise of China, and IS terrorist organization is once again increasingly trying to regain ground in Syria and Iraq," Stoltenberg said.

NATO member countries had previously agreed on a defence spending target of 2%t of GDP by 2024. Germany has significantly increased its defence spending in recent years, but in 2019 it was still only at 1.38% of GDP, dpa recalls. For the year 2020, the amount has been revised due to the economic crisis and German defence spending is now likely to correspond to more than 1.5% of GDP.

The US President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the German government and accused it of under-investing in defence. The US spent around $730bn on defence in 2019 according to NATO figures, which corresponds to 3.4% of GDP.

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