NATO chief says U.S. needs allies after Trump comments as 18 members meet military spending target

NATO said on Wednesday that Europe had increased its spending on defense and the United States needed allies, days after former President Donald Trump suggested that Washington might not protect countries that did not spend enough.

“I expect 18 allies to spend 2% of their GDP on defense this year,” Jens Stoltenberg said at a news conference in Brussels, adding overall military spending was set for another record year after two years of Russia’s full-fledged war against Ukraine.

The number was higher than last year, when 11 of NATO’s 31 members were expected to reach the agreed target.

Trump shocked Europeans on Saturday by implying that he would encourage Russia “to do whatever the hell they want” to NATO allies who did not spend enough.