Sunday, 16 December 2018

Jim Mattis to press European allies on military spending

Jim Mattis

U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis will press European allies on Wednesday to stick to a promise to increase military budgets as the United States offers an increase in its own defense spending in Europe.

For the first time, NATO countries have submitted plans to show how they will reach a target to spend 2 percent of economic output on defense every year by 2024, after Trump threatened to withdraw U.S. support for low-spending allies.

Fifteen of the 28 countries, excluding the United States, now have a strategy to meet a NATO benchmark first agreed in 2014 in response to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region, following years of cuts to European defense budgets.

It is unclear whether that will be enough to impress U.S. President Donald Trump when he attends a NATO summit in July.

While France plans to increase defense spending by more than a third between 2017 and 2025, Spain has said it will not meet the 2024 target, while Belgium and Italy are also lagging.

A multi-billion euro projected increase in Germany will not be enough to take Berlin up to 2 percent by 2024.

Mattis is expected to take a tough stance, according to Katie Wheelbarger, principal U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs.

“He will address those who don’t have national plans to meet 2 percent and suggest they really need to develop those plans,” she told reporters.

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