NATO Member Says 50 Billion Euros In Aid To Ukraine “Far From” Satisfying, Urges Allies To Boost Spending
Estonia has called on all NATO allies to increase defense spending in a bid to strengthen collective support for Ukraine as the conflict recently passed its one-year mark.
“Members have not done enough,” Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu told Fox News Digital in an exclusive interview. “This is my comprehensive assessment.”
“The Western camp has supported weapons aid, given around 50 billion euros [about $53 billion] approximately, and this is far from being satisfying,” he added.
“If we want to invest in Ukrainian victory, not only to invest to Ukraine, that they can survive and not lose, we have to change the paradigm of our support.”
The Baltic state, which joined NATO in 2004 and is also a member of the European Union, recently increased military aid for Ukraine to 370 million euros (about $392 million), slightly more than 1 percent of Estonia’s gross domestic product (GDP).
In the interview, Reinsalu asked all member states to follow Estonia’s target, noting that not only should allies contribute more to Ukraine, but they should also increase defense spending to the alliance itself, suggesting raising spending from 2 percent to 2.5 percent.
“We are making—before the Vilnius Summit—the call that all the NATO allies should contribute their fair share to defense, and the 2 percent is not enough … to raise the minimum of defense expenditure from GDP to 2.5 percent level,” Reinsalu said, adding that Estonia “passed the decision” to raise defense spending to 3 percent of GDP starting next year.
Reinsalu’s remark reiterates a stance revealed in early February by Estonian Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur, who pled during a bilateral meeting in Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin that all EU partners and NATO member states “must spend more than 2 percent” of their GDP, “ideally closer to 2.5 percent” on defense, according to a transcript of the meeting.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (R) and Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur stand for their national anthems during an honor cordon at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., on Oct. 18, 2022. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
Estonia, though a small country, has been a vocal supporter of Ukraine since the start of Russia’s invasion and, as a share of its economic size, has “provided more military aid to Ukraine than any other country in the world,” Austin said at the meeting.
According to data from The World Bank reported by Fox News, Estonia invested as much as 2.4 percent of its GDP toward NATO in 2020, though that number dropped to 2.2 percent in 2021.
NATO allies agreed in 2014, after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, to halt the spending cuts they had made after the Cold War and move toward spending 2 percent of GDP on their defense budgets by 2024. That pledge expires next year, and now, some NATO members are working toward a new target, despite some existing members not even supplying the necessary 2 percent of GDP to defense as stipulated.
NATO leaders are expected to map out the way ahead when they meet for their next summit at the Heads of State Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in July, although it is unclear what the new guideline will be because some member states say 2.5 percent of GDP is unrealistic.
The United States, meanwhile, spends more on its defense budget than all the other allies combined, putting 3.47 percent of GDP into its military coffers, according to NATO estimates for last year.
On the one-year mark of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Biden administration also announced an additional $2 billion in new military aid, bringing the total to $32 billion in taxpayer funds provided to Kyiv in the past 12 months, or roughly five times Ukraine’s annual military budget.
Sat, 03/04/2023 – 08:10