NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
Countries — NATO members in 2015 for the first time in almost ten years increased their military budgets and are not going to dwell on it, said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at a press conference ahead of the meeting of defense Ministers of countries — members of NATO on June 14-15 in Brussels. In 2015 growth was 0.6%, and in 2016 the cost will increase by another 1.5%, that is €3 billion, said the Secretary General.
The specific amount that NATO countries spent on defense in 2015, Stoltenberg did not name, but in February, at the previous meeting of defense Ministers of countries — members of NATO, he said that “this is the most significant extensions of our collective defence since the end of the cold war, and in may said that it comes amid increasing threats, including Russian aggression”.
According to the Financial Times, in 2015, the only European members of NATO spent on defense a $253 billion, and this year Russia’s neighbors, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, and increased the corresponding expenses by 60, 35 and 9%, respectively. For comparison: in the Federal budget of Russia for 2016 defence laid 3,1 trillion rubles (about $47 billion, or 4% of GDP). Thus, the total defence budget of the European members of NATO to increase it exceeded the Russian budget for the current year is more than five times. In turn, the United States will increase the budget for the support of the allied forces in Europe in 2017, to $3.4 billion from $789 million in 2016, that is, four times.
Stoltenberg also confirmed that the Alliance will deploy four battalions in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland as a reaction to the intensification of Russian military on the borders with these countries. “Based on the advice of our military strategists, we agree to host on a rotating basis four multinational battalions in the Baltic States and Poland”, — he said, commenting on the agenda of the meeting of defense Ministers of countries — participants of the block.
As explained by U.S. Ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute, the size of each of the four battalions will be from 800 to 1,000 people. Each country will be posted at the battalion. “This advanced presence of the troops confirm that any attack on each of the countries-allies will attack on every member of the Alliance”, — he stressed.
The decision about additional expansion in Eastern Europe four multinational battalions on a rotational basis will be enshrined in the summit of heads of States — members of NATO in Warsaw on 8-9 July.
The deployment of the multinational battalions — not the only measure of deterrence and defence, which NATO is going to take within the framework of its military policy. NATO, according to Stoltenberg, increased the number of its response force three times, to 40 thousand soldiers, and his quick reaction force (“task force very high readiness) — about 5 thousand military — it is possible to transfer to your destination within a few days. In addition, NATO has established eight new small headquarters in the Eastern part of Europe to coordinate planning, exercises, and strengthen (the defense), he added.
The meeting of defense Ministers of countries — members of NATO held annually at least twice a year. The build-up of troops and logistical infrastructure of NATO on the Eastern flank and increased defense spending in Europe, Ministers approved at the previous meeting in February in response to the activation of the Russian armed forces in the Western direction and the migration crisis in the middle East.
The agenda of this meeting — the military buildup of NATO in Eastern Europe, the role of the Alliance in the fight against “Islamic state” (banned in Russia), efforts to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan, problems in the field of cybersecurity. As reported on the website of the Pentagon, defense Secretary Ashton Carter will discuss “a wide range of issues, including US efforts to “support allies” in terms of “Russian aggression”.
The Ministers will also discuss prospects for cooperation between NATO and the EU, and the additional support of Ukraine and Georgia.” Here will be a meeting of the Commission Ukraine — NATO.