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NATO chief says 18 countries meet 2% military spending target

NATO chief says 18 countries meet 2% military spending target
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg looks on as he attends a joint press conference after an informal meeting with leaders of the NATO alliance's members in the Western Balkans, in Skopje, Republic of North Macedonia, 22 November 2023. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is on a two-day official visit to North Macedonia from 21 to 22 November. EPA-EFE/GEORGI LICOVSKI

Eighteen out of 31 NATO countries will hit the target of 2% in defence spending of their gross domestic product in 2024, NATO's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday.

“I expect 18 allies to spend 2% of their GDP on defence this year,” Jens Stoltenberg said at a news conference in Brussels, adding overall military spending was set for another record year as Russia’s full-fledged war against Ukraine is entering a third year.

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

Berlin will meet the 2% target this year for the first time since the end of the Cold War.

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

The new figures come only days after former U.S. President Donald Trump shocked Europeans by suggesting that the United States might not protect NATO allies who are not spending enough on defence from a potential Russian invasion.

(Reporting by John Irish and Sabine Siebold, editing by Tassilo Hummel)

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