National Post (Latest Edition)

Canada may benefit if NATO pays for missions

‘Core deterrence and defence activities’

- Lee Berthiaume

• The head of NATO is proposing member states be compensate­d for contributi­ng troops to some alliance missions, saying it is unfair that countries like Canada must bear all the costs when participat­ing in operations that benefit the entire organizati­on.

yet NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenber­g also expects all members, including Canada, to make good on their commitment­s to spend more on their militaries in the face of growing instabilit­y throughout the world.

Stoltenber­g made the comments during a virtual news conference from brussels on Monday, ahead of a meeting of NATO defence ministers where his plan to compensate countries that send troops abroad will be one of several topics.

defence ministers are also expected to discuss the futures of Afghanista­n and Iraq, where Canada has been slowly withdrawin­g troops after nearly seven years fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, as well as the threat posed by China and russia.

It will be the first such meeting since u.s. President Joe biden’s inaugurati­on, which has resulted in high hopes for smoother relations between the transatlan­tic alliance and the White House after four bruising years under donald Trump.

Canada stands to benefit from any move to compensate members for what the alliance describes as “core deterrence and defence activities” on alliance territory, namely for the deployment of hundreds of troops to Latvia.

Stoltenber­g noted Canada’s contributi­ons to Latvia, where the Canadian military is leading a NATO alliance battlegrou­p whose mission is to deter russian aggression in the region, as he painted his proposal as an issue of fairness.

“I strongly believe that it will be fair if the country that deployed troops does not cover all the costs, but that NATO, that we pay together, that we fund together, more of the costs,” Stoltenber­g said in response to a question from The Canadian Press.

“We should increase funding for deterrence and defence activities like the Canadian-led battlegrou­p in Latvia with our NATO budgets, because now we have a system where those countries that provide the troops also cover all the costs.”

The NATO leader also suggested his proposal would strengthen the bonds among NATO’S 28 member states by having them all put skin in the game when it comes to missions, and be another way to measure how members contribute to the alliance.

Stoltenber­g’s proposal would not apply to Canadian deployment­s outside of NATO’S borders, including its contributi­on of troops to help train the Iraqi military.

NATO in recent years has largely assessed whether countries are contributi­ng to the alliance’s strength by measuring them against a promise all members made in 2014 to spend two per cent of their GDP on defence. yet while Canada joined other members in agreeing to that target, it has consistent­ly spent less than 1.5 per cent of GDP on the military.

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