Most NATO Members Increased Defense Spending

Seventeen of the 27 NATO members showed some increase in defense spending in 2016 over the previous year, but only five member nations are meeting the goal of two percent of gross national product, the alliance reported. The most significant increases were by the three small Baltic nations, which feel threatened by Russia’s belligerent attitude toward alliance members on its borders. Latvia recorded a 42.3 percent jump in defense spending, followed by Lithuania’s 34.1 and Estonia’s 6.5. The alliance recorded an average increase of 2.65 percent, the NATO report said. The five nations that exceeded the alliance’s two percent goal were the United States at 3.61 percent, Greece at 2.3, the United Kingdom at 2.21, Estonia 2.16, and Poland, which just hit the mark despite a slight drop from 2015. Most of the members spent below 1.5 percent with five falling below one percent, including Canada at .99 percent. Two of Europe’s richest nations, France and Germany, also missed the NATO goal, at 1.78 and 1.19 percent, respectively. Increased pressure for the alliance members to move toward the two percent goal in response to Russia’s aggressive posturing is expected to be a major issue at the upcoming NATO summit in Warsaw. (See also: Breedlove’s Prescription for Warsaw.)