Wednesday

26th Jul 2017

Nato using extra funds to buy 'more armour'

  • Stoltenberg: "What we do in the Baltic countries and Poland is defensive" (Photo: nato.int)

EU states in Nato and Canada spent $46 billion (€41bn) more on defence in the past three years in money that is partly being used to buy more “armour”.

The increase from last year to this year was worth $12 billion (€10.5bn) Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato head, said in Brussels on Wednesday (28 June)

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He said the turnaround in spending came in 2015, predating US leader Donald Trump’s call for EU allies to do more.

“I welcome the strong focus of president Trump on defence spending and burden sharing,” Stoltenberg said.

He said the extra money was being spent on new equipment, on operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Kosovo, and on salaries and pensions.

He also said Nato defence ministers, meeting in Brussels on Thursday will adopt new “capability targets” for future procurement.

“What we will do is to invest more in more heavier forces, more armour, more enablers like for instance air to air refuelling, air defences and also increased readiness and the preparedness of our forces so they can move more quickly. And also, to increase the number of forces and troops”, Stoltenberg said.

He noted that Nato had also deployed “about 4,000” soldiers to the Baltic states and Poland to deter Russian aggression in a force that became “fully operational” in recent days.

“Compared to the tens of thousands of Russian troops we see on the other side of the border I think it’s obvious what we do in the Baltic countries and Poland is a defensive and proportionate response”, he said.

He said the US was also increasing its bilateral presence in Europe, amid doubt over Trump’s commitment to Nato joint defence.

“The US will now have a new armoured brigade in Europe in addition to the two brigades that are already here. So, this is a significant increase of US presence and I think that’s the strongest sign of Nato solidarity”, he said.

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