In Brussels, Hagel Urges NATO Countries to Boost Military Spending

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
June 3, 2014, 10:15 a.m.

U.S. De­fense Sec­ret­ary Chuck Hagel on Tues­day called on NATO coun­tries to in­crease their mil­it­ary spend­ing in re­sponse to re­cent events in Ukraine.

Speak­ing at a meet­ing of al­li­ance de­fense min­is­ters in Brus­sels, the U.S. de­fense chief im­plored NATO to “come to grips with the po­ten­tially dire con­sequences of cur­rent trends in re­duced de­fense in­vest­ment,” Re­u­ters re­por­ted. “Al­lies must demon­strate lead­er­ship and re­solve, and re­verse these trends,” he said.

The United States has routinely urged oth­er mem­ber states of the 28-coun­try al­li­ance to ratchet up their de­fense spend­ing. But it was not un­til Rus­sia’s spring in­cur­sion in­to Ukraine that some European NATO coun­tries really ap­peared to take the U.S. mes­sage to heart. Ro­mania, Latvia, Lithuania and Po­land have all an­nounced that they will be put­ting more money in­to their re­spect­ive mil­it­ar­ies as a re­sponse to Rus­sia’s ag­gress­ive tac­tics.

“We can­not shrink from this chal­lenge,” Hagel said. “We must re­af­firm the se­cur­ity guar­an­tees that lie at the heart of this al­li­ance. And we must hold fast to those guar­an­tees by sum­mon­ing the will to in­vest in a re­vital­ized NATO.”

NATO min­is­ters have agreed to draft a “read­i­ness ac­tion plan” on long-term meas­ures for in­creas­ing de­fenses in East­ern Europe. The plan is to be ready in time for the Septem­ber al­li­ance sum­mit in Wales.

Mo­scow’s an­nex­a­tion of the Crimean Pen­in­sula and its sus­pec­ted ef­forts to destabil­ize east­ern Ukraine have promp­ted NATO to re-ex­am­ine some of its long­stand­ing post-Cold War be­liefs about sta­bil­ity and de­terrence on the con­tin­ent, Re­u­ters sep­ar­ately re­por­ted.

“It’s not that the lead­er­ship in Rus­sia … is look­ing for a war — and the United States cer­tainly isn’t. The real worry is mis­cal­cu­la­tion,” said former Pentagon policy of­fi­cial Kath­leen Hicks.

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