NATO states are dramatically missing their defense spending target

NATO has long demanded that its member states spend at least two percent of their gross domestic product on defense. But things are still not good for this goal.

A large majority of NATO states also missed the alliance's defense spending target set in 2014 in the year after the start of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine. According to a report presented on Thursday by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, of the 31 allies last year, only eleven had defense spending of at least two percent of their gross domestic product. The other states were in some cases significantly lower.

According to NATO's most recent calculations, Germany achieved a quota of 1.66 percent in 2023. At the bottom of the ranking are countries such as Spain (1.24 percent), Belgium (1.21 percent) and Luxembourg (1.01 percent). The NATO goal was achieved by the USA, Poland, Great Britain, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary and Slovakia as well as the three Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. The leader in the quota was Poland with defense spending amounting to 3.92 percent of GDP. The country is still ahead of the USA, which reached 3.24 percent in 2023 according to the most recent calculations.

NATO defense spending could become even more important

The numbers are particularly explosive because of the scenario of Donald Trump returning to the White House after the US presidential election in November. During his term in office from 2017 to 2021, the Republican had repeatedly complained about what he considered to be too low defense spending by European allies and at times even threatened that the USA would leave the alliance. Trump recently made it clear during a campaign appearance that he would not provide American support to allies with low defense spending in the event of a Russian attack.

Russia is likely to lose more than 350,000 soldiers in Ukraine

According to NATO estimates, Russian losses in the war of aggression against Ukraine have recently increased significantly. As NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced in Brussels on Thursday, Western secret services assume that the number of killed or wounded Russian soldiers has now exceeded 350,000. The country is paying a very high price for marginal land gains, he said.

Ukrainian attacks also sank or disabled a significant part of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Stoltenberg added. In the air war, Ukraine shoots down, among other things, important, high-quality surveillance aircraft belonging to Russia.

Number of deaths uncertain

Stoltenberg did not say how many of the Russian victims NATO estimates are dead. At the end of November last year, alliance circles were talking about significantly more than 100,000 – at the time, total losses were estimated at more than 300,000 Russian soldiers. These numbers cannot be independently verified. The Russian side does not provide any precise information about the losses in its own ranks.