NATO leaders gather for annual summit as Trump pushes for increases to defence spending

NATO leaders gather for annual summit as Trump pushes for increases to defence spending

Leaders from NATO’s 29 member states will gather in Brussels today for the alliance’s annual summit. The focus of the

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Photo: Getty Images

Leaders from NATO’s 29 member states will gather in Brussels today for the alliance’s annual summit.

The focus of the summit will likely be defence spending, as US President Donald Trump has argued that the US shoulders too much of the alliance’s financial burden. Currently, Washington is responsible for some 70% of NATO’s funding, while all members have agreed to raise defence spending to 2% of their GDP by 2024.

While Western European countries are likely to come under the microscope for defence spending, Eastern Europe—which has the most to fear from Russian aggression—could be overlooked. Estonia, Poland and Romania were among the six NATO members to meet the 2% threshold last year, while Latvia and Lithuania’s spending was just below that target. All five of these countries have experienced a NATO military build-up over the last year.

For Eastern Europe, the inevitable bluster of today’s summit will not be of as much concern as Mr Trump’s summit with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki later this week. Anything other than a hard line on Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, for example, could be more fractious for NATO than a blow up at today’s summit.

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