Head of the Estonian Delegation to the NATO PA Raimond Kaljulaid, who is participating in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (PA) Transatlantic Forum in Washington, said that a strong message was heard at the forum, especially from the representatives of the US, that the non-fulfilment of earlier agreements on defence spending, especially by European allies, was a very serious problem, especially in view of the US presidential elections the next year.
Kaljulaid said that several representatives of the US had referred to the long-standing position of the presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his criticism of the European allies in particular. “The fact that up to now, not all NATO countries have been able to ensure the defence spending level of two per cent of GDP is a serious challenge. All the more so since NATO countries have provided Ukraine with a significant amount of military equipment and ammunition – and replacing it is a difficult task. Russia has been more successful than the West in launching military industry. Europe, including Estonia, must take these warnings about the future of NATO with deadly seriousness,” he underlined.
Kaljulaid said that the failure to fulfil previous funding agreements allowed to call into question the commitments of the US to the Allies, up to the commitments under NATO’s Article Five. “It is very easy for the US politicians, who are more sceptical about the alliance commitments taken in the past, to point to the low defence spending of the European allies and ask why the US should defend the allies who do not honour agreements and promises,” Kaljulaid explained.
Member of the Estonian delegation to the NATO PA Jüri Ratas also emphasised that it was important to contribute at least two per cent of GDP to defence spending, and admitted that many countries were still not doing this. He also highlighted the need to act together and even more strongly, so that Russia would not even think of attacking any NATO country in the future, and noted that supporting Ukraine must continue without allowing the war fatigue to set in.
At the NATO PA Transatlantic Forum, which takes place from Monday to Wednesday in the US, policymakers and foreign and defence policy experts discuss transatlantic relations and the strengthening of cooperation, both in the aftermath of the Vilnius Summit and in preparation for the Washington Summit that will be held next year.
The war in Ukraine that has been launched by Russia, including the impact of sanctions against Russia on the country’s economy, and the wider effect of the war on Russia, are also spoken about at the Forum. Discussions focus on support for Ukraine, including military assistance to the country, and support for Ukraine’s economy and post-war reconstruction. Minister of Defence of Sweden Pål Jonson will participate in the discussions on Sweden’s future role in the Alliance. The Forum will also discuss the developments in the Middle East and Asia.