- Back in 2014, NATO members committed to defence spending target of 2% GDP
- But latest NATO figures show only 11 of 31 members were actually meeting targ
It’s fair to say Donald Trump’s declaration this past weekend that Russia should be allowed ‘to do whatever the hell it wants’ to NATO countries not contributing their fair share to defence spending was not well received by the alliance.
The former US President ignited a political firestorm with the comments at a rally in South Carolina when he said: ‘You didn’t pay? You’re delinquent?’ No, I would not protect you.
‘In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You gotta pay. You gotta pay your bills.’
The White House immediately issued a scathing retort, labelling his comments as ‘appalling and unhinged’ and argued they ‘promoted dangerous chaos’.
And a furious NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg retorted: ‘Any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security, including that of the US, and puts American and European soldiers at increased risk.’
But despite the classically brash and inflammatory nature of his comments, the platinum-blond firebrand might have a point.
Although NATO has some common funds, to which all members contribute, the vast bulk of its strength comes from members’ own national defence spending.
Back in 2014, alliance members committed to spending at least 2% of their GDP every year on defence – and most of them fell well short of that goal last year despite making the commitment when Russia first annexed Crimea from Ukraine.
According to estimates from July last year, only 11 of the 31 NATO countries were on track to meet the 2% GDP defence spending target in 2023.
Those members were Poland, the United States – which contributed 3.9% and 3.49% respectively – Greece, Estonia, Lithuania, Finland, Romania, Hungary, Latvia, Britain and Slovakia, which just tipped the threshold at 2.03%.
Yet France and Germany, two of EU’s economic heavyweights and founding members of the alliance, both missed the mark at 1.9% and a measly 1.57% respectively.
German officials were quick to point out they expect to meet the 2% target this year, partly thanks to a special 1-billion-euro fund established in response to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
And despite not meeting the 2% GDP defence spending mark, Germany remains Ukraine’s second biggest weapons contributor, and Chancellor Olaf Scholz has been vocal in pushing other EU nations to give more.
Europe must ramp up production of armaments massively and urgently, he said today, warning that the continent now ‘does not live in times of peace’.
Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony for Rheinmetall’s new munitions factory, Scholz said European nations must pool together orders and financing to provide the defence industry with purchase guarantees for the next decades.
‘This is urgently necessary because the painful reality is that we do not live in times of peace,’ he said, pointing to Russia’s war on Ukraine.
‘We must move from manufacturing to mass production of armaments,’ he said, arguing that ‘those who want peace must be able to successfully deter aggressors’.
But even if Germany is ramping up its defence spending, that leaves nearly two dozen countries lagging behind their commitments.
The lowest spenders as a share of national GDP were Spain, Belgium and Luxembourg, at just 1.26%, 1.26% and 0.72% respectively, according to the NATO figures.
Given Luxembourg’s miniscule size and resources compared to other NATO countries, it is not expected to meet the same requirements. Iceland meanwhile isn’t included in the list, because it doesn’t have its own military despite being a founding NATO member.
NATO is expected to release updated figures in the coming days that will show more allies meeting the 2% target, according to people familiar with the data.
The security bloc is also set to expand to 32 countries in the near future, with Sweden awaiting ratification of its application amid obstacles presented by Hungary’s Viktor Orban.
But according to the existing figures, there are seven member countries whose defence spending remains less than 1.5% of GDP, non-inclusive of Iceland and Luxembourg.
Trump’s harsh words for European NATO nations seen to be skimping on defence commitments has prompted major concern for some.
Ben Hodges, the former Commanding General of US Army Europe, went as far to tell MailOnline last month that European nations would be ‘sitting ducks’ if Trump was to be elected in November.
And the US Congress got so concerned Trump could unilaterally withdraw from NATO if he won a second term that it passed a law in December requiring the president to get a two-third majority of the Senate to do so.
Others meanwhile have kept a lid on the hysteria, reasoning that Trump’s polarising comments were made amid a fervent campaign for re-election months away from what promises to be one of the most hotly contested – and mean – presidential races ever.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell appealed for calm, treating Trump’s comments as ‘humour’.
‘Let’s be serious. NATO cannot be an a la carte military alliance, it cannot be a military alliance that works depending on the humour of the president of the US.
‘It exists or it does not exist,’ he said, adding that he was not going to keep commenting on ‘any silly idea’ emerging from the US presidential election campaign.
The squabble over member states’ defence spending comes as the defence ministers of several Nordic and eastern European countries in recent weeks made various unsettling declarations, telling their citizens to be prepared for war in a matter of years.
Russia has often signalled it has no intention of expanding its ‘special military operation’ beyond the borders of Ukraine, with Vladimir Putin most recently telling Tucker Carlson that any suggestion he could invade the Baltic states or Poland is simply wrong.
But Russia’s invasion of its neighbour on February 24, 2022 darkened the door of Europe with a large scale hot war for the first time since the end of World War 2, and caused many European nations to prepare for the worst.
In the two years since the Russian President ordered the invasion, tens if not hundreds of thousands of soldiers have been killed or injured.
Thousands of armoured vehicles have been destroyed and several battleships have been sunk by Ukraine’s armed forces, whose steely resolve to defend their homeland has been reinforced by a steady supply of Western munitions and military hardware.
But Russia has since halted Ukraine’s eastward march and ground the war to a standstill across hundreds of miles – fortifying the frontlines with mines, trenches and artillery.
Moscow has also called up more conscripts and replenished its forces on the battlefield, and has secured a fresh supply of artillery and drones from its allies North Korea and Iran while it ramps up its own domestic production.
With time now working in Putin’s favour, there are concerns among Western military figures that he could next set his sights on NATO’s eastern flank and to countries which – like Ukraine – were once part of the vast Soviet Union.
When comparing the size and strength of the forces commanded by individual NATO nations to those at Putin’s disposal, it is easy to understand the concern.
But taken as a whole, NATO is by far the world’s most formidable military force.
The alliance’s 31 countries have a combined military budget of over $1.1 trillion, over three million active personnel, 2.7 million reserve personnel and more than 700,000 troops in paramilitary forces.
On top of that, in the event of an all-out war, the alliance’s members could collectively call up more than 206 million people for military service (based on their populations of military-aged civilians).
NATO countries also have over 14,000 tanks in their arsenals and tens of thousands more combat vehicles, 21,000 military aircraft and almost 2,000 naval vessels.
Three nuclear armed nations are also members: the US, the UK and France.
Sen Mike Lee (R-UT) addresses the Senate on the Ukraine Funding Bill
Mitch McConnell and Senate RINOs Help Pass Ukraine Funding Package that Includes Language for Automatic Impeachment if Trump Terminates Funding for Ukraine War
In an unusual session held on Super Bowl Sunday, the US Senate voted to move forward a substantial $95 billion aid package that will support Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, with no southern border security provisions. The package includes $60 billion for Ukraine and $14 billion for Israel. The vote garnered support from RINOs, with a final tally of 67-27.
According to The Hill, Schumer offered Republicans the chance to vote on amendments in exchange for expediting the legislative process.
“By a vote of 67-27, The Senate invoked cloture on Murray substitute amendment 1388 to H.R.815, legislative vehicle for supplemental appropriations,” the Senate Press Gallery wrote on X.
Sixty-seven senators voted in favor of war funding, while 27 senators opposed the expenditure, all of whom were Republicans.
On Super Bowl Sunday, the following 18 Republican senators supported the Ukraine war funding:
- Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)
- Bill Cassidy (R-LA)
- Susan Collins (R-ME)
- John Cornyn (R-TX)
- Joni Ernst (R-IA)
- Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
- John Kennedy (R-LA)
- Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
- Jerry Moran (R-KS)
- Markwayne Mullin (R-OK)
- Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
- Mitt Romney (R-UT)
- Mike Rounds (R-SD)
- Dan Sullivan (R-AK)
- John Thune (R-SD)
- Thom Tillis (R-NC)
- Roger Wicker (R-MS)
- Todd Young (R-IN)
The legislation passed cloture in a rare Super Bowl Sunday vote.
On Monday morning, Trump-supporting Senator J.D. Vance (R-OH) posted a stunning report on X. According to Senator Vance, the Senate funding package includes language that makes it impossible for President Trump to terminate the Ukraine War funding into his second term.
The language was inserted into the aid package with President Trump in mind. These dirty RINOs and Democrats voted on a bill that will send endless billions to Ukraine no matter how dire the situation is on the ground.
“Buried in the bill’s text is an impeachment time bomb for the next Trump presidency if he tries to stop funding the war in Ukraine. We must vote against this disastrous bill,” Sen. Vance wrote.
And 17 Republican RINOs supported this package!
Senator Vance sent the following memo to every Republican lawmaker in Congress:
The Ukraine Supplemental Includes a Hidden Impeachment Clause Against President Trump
Background: President Trump was wrongfully impeached by the partisan Pelosi-led House of Representatives on December 18, 2019! At the core of the impeachment was a pause on funds appropriated to Ukraine: “…$391 million in security assistance: $250 million through the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative and $141 million through the State Department’s Foreign Military Financing program.
The false argument put forward by Democrats was/is as follows: as President Trump had allegedly paused these funds because he wished to see the corrupt nexus between the Biden family and Ukraine investigated, President Trump had abused his power, with the aim of interfering with the U.S. presidential election.
Page 425 of the Committee Report on the first impeachment states: “The President froze military assistance to Ukraine against U.S. national security interests and over the objections of career experts.” The impeachment inquiry report states, “The President did so despite the longstanding bipartisan support of Congress, uniform support across federal departments and agencies for the provision to Ukraine of the military assistance, and his obligations under the Impoundment Control Act.”
The Supplemental Impeachment Time Bomb: President Trump has said, in regard to the war in Ukraine, “We got to get that war settled and I’ll get it settled.” He has stated that he would resolve the war in 24 hours.”
The bill includes $1.6 billion for foreign military financing in Ukraine, and $13.7 billion for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. These funds expire on September 30, 2025 nearly a year into the possible second term of President Trump. These are the exact same accounts President Trump was impeached for pausing in December 2019. Every single House Republican voted against this impeachment resolution.
If President Trump were to withdraw from or pause financial support for the war in Ukraine in order to bring the conflict to a peaceful conclusion, “over the objections of career experts,” it would amount to the same fake violation of budget law from the first impeachment, under markedly similar facts and circumstances.
Partisan Democrats would seize on the opportunity to impeach him once again. The Washington Post has reported that tying President Trump’s hands on foreign policy is very much top of mind for Biden administration officials, who are openly boasting about their plans.’ The background quote is damning:
Not incidentally, a U.S. official said, the hope is that the long-term promise — again assuming congressional buy-in — will also “future-proof” aid for Ukraine against the possibility that former president Donald Trump wins his reelection bid.?
Conclusion: The supplemental represents an attempt by the foreign policy blob/deep state to stop President Trump from pursuing his desired policy, and if he does so anyways, to provide grounds to impeach him and undermine his administration. All Republicans should oppose its passage.
According to Senator Vance, “This new Ukraine bill tries to make it ILLEGAL for Trump to do what he is promising on the campaign trail. It is a plot against the President Trump, plain and simple.”
But, of course, they have an insurance plan even if Trump pulls it off. Though few have noticed, buried in the bill’s text is a kill switch for the next Trump presidency.
The legislation explicitly requires funding for Ukraine well into the next presidential term. The Washington Post has already reported this provision was added to control Donald Trump.
It gets worse. Back in 2019, Democrats articulated a novel theory of impeachment, based on Trump’s refusal to spend money from the USAI Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. Five years after impeaching Trump for refusing to spend money on Ukraine, they have drafted a new law that again requires Trump to spend money on Ukraine. If he negotiates an end to the war, as he has promised to do, they will undoubtedly argue that he has broken the law. We are nearly a year away from an election that could give Trump the presidency, and Ukraine-obsessive Republicans have already given the Democrats a predicate to impeach him.
Slava Ukraini, America be damned.