Kucinskis: US call for higher defense spending should not be taken as reproach to Latvia

  • 2017-02-16
  • BNS/TBT Staff

RIGA - U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis’ call to NATO member states to boost their defense spending should not be taken as a reproach to Latvia, Prime Minster Maris Kucinskis (Greens/Farmers) believes.

Kucinskis told BNS that Latvia is determined to increase its defense budget to 2 percent of GDP starting next year.

The Latvian premier believes that this U.S. warning referred to the alliance’s member states in general, as there are several NATO members that do not meet the recommendation to allocate 2 percent of their GDP to defense and whose defense expenditures are even lower than those of Latvia.

As reported, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis warned earlier today that Washington will “moderate its commitment” to NATO unless other members of the alliance do increase their defense spending.

"No longer can the American taxpayer carry a disproportionate share of the defense of Western values," AFP quoted Mattis as saying in prepared remarks given to his counterparts at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Earlier today, Mattis said that NATO was a "fundamental bedrock" for the United States as he tried to reassure allies concerned about President Donald Trump's commitment.

At present, only five NATO members – the U.S., Greece, Estonia, Great Britain and Poland - spend at least 2 percent of their GDP on defense. Latvia and Lithuania have committed to reach that benchmark next year.