19:20 / 21.03.2023.

Author: Domagoj Ferenčić

Stoltenberg calls on NATO countries to ramp up spending on defense

NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg

NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg

Foto: Wennerlund Fredrik / Stella Pictures/ABACA

While the United States and its NATO allies pour billions of dollar into arming Ukraine, the collective West has roundly condemned the meeting between the Chinese and Russian presidents in Moscow, warning China to not provide military aid to Russia.

Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Moscow continued on Tuesday with formal talks on economic cooperation between the two strategic partners. The visit comes amid reports that a Russian fighter jet intercepted two American B-52 bombers flying towards the Russian border on Monday.

Speaking to reporters after their meeting today, President Xi said that the alliance between Beijing and Moscow was a logical one: "The fact that Russia is the first destination for Chinese leaders is in line with historic logic, because we are the biggest neighboring country and all-encompassing strategic partner. Out ties have survived the test of time, numerous changes and is growing ever stronger."

For his part Russian President Vladimir Putin emphasized their cooperation both economically and in global affairs: "During these talks we had a comprehensive and honest exchange of ideas on further developing bilateral relations and strengthening cooperation on the global scene."

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg presented NATO's annual report for 2022 in Brussels on Tuesday. And while he didn't comment on the B-52's flying on Russia's doorstep, he did address NATO's take on the meeting between president’s Xi and Putin: "We haven't seen any proof that China is delivering lethal weapons to Russia. Of course the meeting that takes place in Moscow is part of a pattern we have seen over the last years. And we see how China and Russia are coming closer and closer in the military domain, they have joint exercises, joint patrols, naval and air patrols, in the economic domain and also in the political and diplomatic domain."

Stoltenberg went on to say that seven of the thirty NATO countries have met the goal of spending two percent of GDP on defense: "Since 2014 allies have increased defense spending, and we are moving in the right direction. But we are not moving as fast as the dangerous world we live in demands. So, while I welcome all the progress that has been made, it is obvious that we need to do more and we need to do it faster. At our summit in Vilnius in July, I expect allies to agree to a more ambitious new defense investment pledge. With two percent of GDP as a minimum to be invested in our defense."

Source: HRT

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