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Conference of NATO defence ministers to begin

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Conference of NATO defence ministers to begin

Nato defense ministers
Photo: Aris Oikonomou/ AFP/ Getty

NATO defence ministers will meet via teleconference today, beginning two days of talks.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced that the organisation’s members will discuss fairer defence spending commitments and the ongoing missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as strengthening deterrence vis-à-vis Russia. Regarding defence spending, the European members have made significant progress in meeting the goal of spending 2% of their GDPs on armed forces, with signatory governments raising their defence spending by a total of $130 billion and nine countries now meeting the 2% goal as of 2019.

Much of this progress, however, will likely be offset in 2020 by governments diverting public spending to shoring up their domestic economies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, for instance, has announced a delay worth billions of dollars in military spending, an approach that continental partners are likely to replicate.

Expect Stoltenberg to emphasise the continued importance of NATO countries meeting defence commitments as a show of the bloc’s solidarity and deterrence capacity. Yet, he may do so in vain; national priorities will most likely trump NATO pledges, at least until the demands of the pandemic cease.

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