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Germany to hit NATO budget goal for 1st time since Cold War

February 14, 2024

NATO's chief, Jens Stoltenberg, lauded an "unprecedented" increase in defense spending across the US-dominated alliance. Germany has pledged over 2% of its GDP for defense this year.

A German Leopard 2 tank
Earlier this week, Chancellor Olaf Scholz told the defense sector that Germany would meet the NATO defense spending target of 2%Image: Martin Meissner/AP Photo/picture alliance

Germany will meet NATO's defense spending target of 2% of its gross domestic product (GDP) for the first time since the early 1990s, according to a Defense Ministry spokesman and NATO forecast released Wednesday.

German news agency DPA put the figure of the German government's reported allocation for defense spending at $73.41 billion (€ 68.58 billion) in the current year which it said would be 2.01% of Germany's GDP.

In 2023, Germany spent 1.57% of GDP on defense, well short of the 2% target. This Monday, however, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz pledged to meet the 2% spending commitment while on a visit to Rheinmetall's future arms factory site.

'Unprecedented' 11 % increase in defense spending — NATO chief

News of Germany hitting the 2% spending target came as NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg praised an "unprecedented" 11% increase in defense spending in the 31-nation alliance.

"This year I expect 18 allies to spend 2% of their GDP on defense. That is another record number," Stoltenberg said during a pre-ministerial press conference in Brussels.

He said this represented a six-fold increase from 2014 when only three allies met the target.

NATO's European states would invest a combined total of $380 billion in defense this year, Stoltenberg added.

In 2023, eleven allies are expected to have met the 2% target according to prior NATO estimates — Poland, the US, Greece, Estonia, Lithuania, Finland, Romania, Hungary, Latvia, Britain and Slovakia.

Renewed debate over conscription in Germany

Ukraine invasion a driving factor

The surge in defense spending comes as Russia's war in Ukraine approaches the 2-year mark.

The conflict has seen Western allies ramp up spending on military aid, although there are concerns over continued funding for Ukraine's defensive effort against Russia.

The latest developments regarding NATO members spending on defense come hot on the heels of former US President Donald Trump's comments at a campaign rally in South Carolina during which he said Russia could "do whatever the hell they want" to any NATO country that did not spend enough on defense.

The comments were condemned by US President Joe Biden, who described them as "dumb" and "shameful," in one of his most blistering attacks yet on his likely Republican rival.

kb/dj (dpa, Reuters)

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