NATO spending down despite Russia tensions: Think-tank

Many NATO member countries are spending less on defence despite promises to boost their budgets in the face of growing tensions with Russia, a think-tank said on Thursday.

AFP| Updated: Feb 26, 2015, 19:19 PM IST

Brussels: Many NATO member countries are spending less on defence despite promises to boost their budgets in the face of growing tensions with Russia, a think-tank said on Thursday.

The European Leadership Network looked at figures for 2015 from 14 NATO members to see if they meet pledges made at a summit of the US-led military alliance last September.

All 28 NATO nations vowed to reverse a steady decline in defence spending and increase expenditure levels to two percent of annual economic output within 10 years.

"Despite concerns over Russian aggression in Ukraine and political commitments made at the NATO Wales Summit in September 2014... many are failing to live up to the commitments made," the think-tank said.

The tiny Baltic state of Estonia was the only country expected to spend 2.0 percent of gross domestic product on defence this year, London-based ELN said.

Six countries -- Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, the Netherlands and Romania -- are due to increase military expenditure but will not meet the target, while France is on course for a flat defence budget between 2014 and 2015.

Britain, Germany, Canada, Italy, Hungary and Bulgaria are all set to cut defence spending, the think-tank said.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has repeatedly urged cash-strapped member nations to boost funding to meet increases in defence spending by Russia.

Russia`s alleged involvement in Ukraine -- which the Kremlin has denied -- has sparked fears in NATO that Moscow could target the alliance`s eastern European members.