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Spain boosts military spending to close gap with NATO goal

Barcelona, ​​Spain (AFP) – Spain increases military spending as it works toward meeting NATO A commitment to allocate 2% of GDP for defense, the government said on Tuesday.

Cabinet members approved a one-time spending of about 1 billion euros (about $1.04 billion) for the Spanish Defense Ministry that the government said was needed to cover unexpected expenses that resulted from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine..

Spain sent military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, and deployed more troops and aircraft to NATO missions in Eastern Europe.

NATO leaders agreed at a summit held in Madrid last week to expand their efforts to reach all coalition members to the 2% mark of GDP. Currently, only nine of the 30 members of the Western Military Alliance meet or exceed this goal.

Spain pledged at the NATO summit in Madrid last week that it will reach the target of 2% of GDP by 2029. This means doubling its budget for military spending from 13 billion euros ($13.4 billion) to 26 billion euros ($27 billion). ) in seven years.

Spain currently spends 1% of its GDP on defence. Only Luxembourg spends a smaller percentage of its GDP on defense than Spain spends on NATO, according to NATO.

The United States, which provides the bulk of NATO’s forces, has had a longstanding complaint that many of its European allies are not providing them adequately. Spain, for example, has tried to make up for the lack of spending by contributing troops, planes, and ships to NATO missions.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February triggered a rearmament movement in several European countries. Germany, which has so far spent only 1.4% of its GDP on defense, has approved a special fund of 100 billion euros ($107 billion) to strengthen the country’s army.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said at a summit last week that allies had reaffirmed their commitment to a minimum of 2%. He said 19 members pledged to fulfill it by 2024, with the remaining five to follow, including Spain.

Stoltenberg said at the summit that NATO declared Russia to be the biggest threat to it. Describe China’s growing military ambitions as a “challenge”.

Spain’s decision, designed to show that NATO is serious about increasing spending on its armed forces, aims to create friction within the left-wing ruling coalition, which does not have a majority in parliament.

The junior member of the government, United We Can, is adamantly opposed to the army spending increase sought by Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. The Left Party called a coalition meeting to discuss spending priorities.

Government spokeswoman Isabel Rodriguez said after the cabinet meeting that the military funding approved on Tuesday was approved “as part of our commitment to a clear and resolute response to (the invasion) of Ukraine and to meet the extraordinary costs of our armed forces caused by the war.”

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Follow all AP coverage of NATO at https://apnews.com/hub/nato

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