Germany and most other NATO countries will reach two percent target in 2024

Germany and most other NATO countries want to spend at least two percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defense this year. The target is being met by 23 of the 32 member states, said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday in Washington. Germany's defense spending is estimated at 2.12 percent of the forecast GDP. During his visit to the US, Stoltenberg called for more arms deliveries to Kiev. His criticism of China's stance on the Ukraine war was sharply rejected by Beijing.

“NATO allies are increasing their defense spending by 18 percent this year. This is the largest increase in decades,” Stoltenberg said at a meeting with US President Joe Biden in the White House. NATO heads of state and government had formulated the two percent mark at a summit in 2014. At that time, only the USA, Great Britain and Greece met this target.

According to NATO figures, eleven of the allies invested two percent of their GDP or more in defense last year. Germany has pledged to reach the two percent figure again this year for the first time in decades. According to the figures, German defense spending amounts to just under 90.6 billion euros, which is around 23 billion euros more than in 2023.

Biden's presumed challenger in the upcoming presidential election, former US President Donald Trump, had repeatedly pushed for higher defense budgets from allies during his time in office. In February, he said at a campaign event that he would not come to the aid of NATO partners in the event of a Russian attack if they did not spend enough on their defense. Instead, he would encourage Russia in such a case to “do whatever it wants with them.”

In an interview with the “Welt” newspaper and US media, Stoltenberg defended Trump against the accusation that these statements were questioning the military alliance. “Donald Trump did not primarily criticize NATO. His criticism was directed against NATO members who do not invest enough in NATO,” said Stoltenberg.

Stoltenberg's visit to Washington was to prepare for the NATO summit marking the 75th anniversary of the military alliance, which will be held in the USA next month. The allies want to secure permanent support for Ukraine. This is also intended to prevent Trump from winning the presidential election in the USA and wanting to change course in Ukraine policy.

During his visit to the US capital, the NATO Secretary General called for further military aid for Kiev. “It may seem paradoxical, but the path to peace leads through more weapons for Ukraine,” said Stoltenberg. Ukraine must be supported “credibly and permanently” in its fight against Russian troops.

Regarding China's role, the NATO chief said that the People's Republic is pretending to be neutral. In doing so, Beijing wants to “avoid sanctions and keep trade going,” Stoltenberg speculated. “But the reality is that China is fueling the largest armed conflict in Europe since World War II and at the same time wants to maintain good relations with the West.”

The West must not accept this, warned Stoltenberg. “Beijing cannot have it both ways. At some point – and unless China changes course – the allies must impose punishment.” There must be “consequences.”

The Chinese government rejected Stoltenberg's criticism. “We advise (NATO) to refrain from blaming others, from sowing discord and from pouring oil on the fire,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lin Jian in Beijing on Tuesday. Instead, NATO must take concrete steps “for the political settlement of the crisis.”