Pentagon chief says NATO members must boost defence spending
BRUSSELS — U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis on Wednesday issued a sharp ultimatum to NATO Wednesday, telling allies they must start increasing defence spending by year’s end or the Trump administration will “moderate its commitment” to them.
He did not detail what the United States might do if NATO members failed to fall in line.
Echoing a demand made repeatedly by President Donald Trump, Mattis said NATO must adopt a plan this year that sets milestone dates for governments to meet a military funding goal of 2 per cent of gross domestic product.
The Pentagon chief called it a “fair demand” based on the “political reality” in Washington.
“No longer can the American taxpayer carry a disproportionate share of the defence of Western values,” Mattis told the alliance’s 27 other defence ministers, according to a text of his remarks. “Americans cannot care more for your children’s future security than you do.”
Attending his first NATO defence ministers’ meeting, Mattis tried to make his case by citing the threat from Russia. The gathering came at an awkward time for the United States, after Trump fired national security adviser Michael Flynn over Flynn’s communications with Russia before President Barack Obama left office Jan. 20.
Mattis noted Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and the Islamic State group’s hold over parts of Iraq and Syria, and said that “some in this alliance have looked away in denial of what is happening.”