The Trump administration has moved to substantially cut its contribution to NATO’s collective budget according to several US and NATO officials, a symbolic move that comes as many continue to question President Donald Trump’s commitment to the transatlantic alliance as he prepares to attend a summit to mark its 70th anniversary in London next week, CNN informed.
Previously the U.S. provided some 22% of NATO’s direct funding, which covers the cost of maintaining the NATO headquarters, joint security investments and some combined military operations.
It’s a largely symbolic move as NATO’s direct budget is relatively small, at about $2.5 billion, and is separate from national defense budgets that NATO recommends should stand at 2% of GDP.
Defense officials tell CNN that the Trump administration sought to reduce its contribution to about 16%, bringing it in line with Germany’s, which provides 14.8% despite the US having a larger economy.
Trump has long slammed NATO allies, particularly Germany for not meeting the 2% NATO defense spending target, which only eight of 29 members currently meet. All members pledged to reach the 2% level by 2024 but not all of them currently have plans to do so. Member countries have boosted defense spending considerably in recent years, something Trump has claimed credit for.
NATO officials including the Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg have also credited Trump for the rise in spending, with an extra $100 billion spent since 2014 but have also acknowledged the increased threat from Russia following its seizure of Crimea and other factors have helped to prompt the increase.