While NATO’s collective defence spending rises, intra-alliance disputes persist

NATO defence ministers will gather in Brussels today for a two-day meeting to discuss challenges facing the collective security alliance.

nato defence ministers

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP

NATO defence ministers will gather in Brussels today for a two-day meeting to discuss challenges facing the collective security alliance.

Alleged Russian violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, defence spending and NATO’s current missions in Afghanistan and Iraq are all on today’s agenda.

On the surface, the NATO alliance is on a strong footing—defence spending is on the rise, American troops have been forward deployed to the Baltic states and Poland and cooperation with the EU is increasing.

However, disagreements between key members, like the US and France, on such issues as Turkey’s incursion into Kurdish-controlled Syria last year, have undermined the treaty organisation’s public image. In the US, public support for NATO dropped to 52% in 2019 from 64% the year before. In France, support decreased from 60% to 49% between 2017 and 2019.

Today’s meeting will re-affirm a strengthened American presence in Eastern Europe and likely yield pledges from European capitals to increase their military spending to 2% of GDP. However, despite strategic adjustments and increasing resources, popular undercurrents railing against NATO risk undermining its overarching mission.

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