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The Numbers Don’t Lie: Russia’s Ukraine Invasion Made NATO Far Stronger

NATO Tank Leopard 2
NATO Leopard Tank. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

One of the biggest unintended consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine was the strengthening of the NATO transatlantic military alliance.

This time last year, few would have thought that in the span of 12 months, there would be a surge of spending and commitment to spend on defense by the NATO member states and that Finland and Sweden, both long bastions of non-alignment, would have applied for membership at the transatlantic military alliance.

NATO Spending 

But a healthy and strong NATO requires sufficient spending by its member states. The often-cited requirement of 2 percent of a country’s gross domestic product is met by only a handful of NATO member states. In the very recent past, the numbers were disheartening.

“I know that there’s been a lot of discussion about defense spending within NATO recently, so let me just say that spending two percent of GDP is a floor, and not a ceiling, in my view. And it’s also important to increase the amount of common funding so that our net — NATO has the resources that it needs to accomplish the task our leaders have assigned us. And we fully support your efforts and applaud your efforts to ensure that NATO has the resources that it needs,” U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a joint press conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

In the very recent past, the numbers were disheartening. For example, in 2017, only four NATO member states spent at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense: the United States (3.6%), Greece (2.4%), the United Kingdom (2.1%), and Poland (2.0%).

But these numbers have begun to shift considerably. In 2021, ten NATO member states spent more than 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense. Here is a list of the ten countries that spend the most according to their economic strength.

  1. Greece — 3.82%
  2. United States — 3.52%
  3. Croatia — 2.79%
  4. United Kingdom — 2.29%
  5. Estonia — 2.28%
  6. Latvia — 2.27%
  7. Poland — 2.10%
  8. Lithuania — 2.03%
  9. Romania — 2.02%
  10. France — 2.01%

“I agree with you that two percent is a minimum, and therefore, we need to make sure that we continue to ensure that NATO Allies are investing more. And across Europe and Canada, we have seen now seven consecutive years of increased defense spending and more and more Allies are meeting the two-percent guideline — the guideline of spending two percent of GDP on defense,” Stoltenberg said.


Maj. Barak Amundson and 1st Lt. Matthew Scott, 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron pilots, fly over Lithuania during a training mission with the Lithuanian air force April 23, 2014. The 48th Air Expeditionary Group has been conducting the Baltic Air Policing mission here since January and will be handing over the mission to the Polish air force at the beginning of May. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dana J. Butler/Released)


A Challenger 2 main battle tank (MBT) is pictured during a live firing exercise in Grafenwöhr, Germany.
Exercise BAVARIAN CHARGER was the first of three large contingency operation exercises being undertaken by 20th Armoured Brigade between May – October 2013. Contingency Operations training is known as Hybrid Foundation Training or HFT.
The aim of this exercise was to train the 5 Rifles, The Queens Dragoon Guards (QDG) Battle Groups and 1 Logistic Support Regiment in combined arms manoeuvre.

A Class Of Its Own 

In total numbers, the U.S. outspends every other NATO member state, and indeed a nation in the world. With a defense budget of over $800 billion, the U.S. spends more than the next nine countries combined, which figure includes near-peer competitors, such as China and Russia, and close allies, such as France, Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom. At the end of the day, the U.S. defense budget reflects the global commitments of the U.S. military.

1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.



  1. Jerry Mander

    June 3, 2022 at 9:57 am

    And then the US scraps a lot of the stuff it spent billions on because of poor planning, deliberate boondoggles, abandoning hardware per Afghanistan….. While allowing our enemies to hack into the secrets of our technology.
    It’s not how much we spend, it’s the quality of the spending that matters most, but tell that to Congress.

  2. Nabi

    June 3, 2022 at 1:02 pm

    Stronger? Not if all the members are committed to sitting around on their butts, deliberating waiting for the ‘right moment’to make a response.

  3. Whiskey1Bravo

    June 4, 2022 at 2:52 am

    Stronger? I doubt it. NATO combine forces of all of Europe’s armies total are outman and outgun in size by Ukraine’s army and all the other combat/police/security units they have.
    Yet Russia’s secondary troops with the DPR and LPR are wiping out Ukraine’s troops left and right mostly everywhere on the battlefields. NATO is freaking out big time even with sending in weapons, ammo, troops, merc. on the sly to fight and using our intel resources to give Russia’s troops and equipment positions away to Ukraine.
    The way Ukraine is using their own people as cannon fodder, not resupplying them, treating them like crap will only speed up the collapse of the whole army as a fighting force.
    Already they lost 55,000 plus KIA and MIA with about 20-30,000 as POW. Already you got units surrendering to Russia who don’t want to fight anymore for being use as cannon fodder or leaving the front lines on their own.
    Ukraine doesn’t have much as far as replacement go. Only older men, teenagers and young men with no combat training or experience except maybe a very few.
    Russia phase 1 went down alright with some problems (above is why) and phase 2 is almost completed and their starting on phase 3 now. Russia will win, Ukraine screw up majorly and its too late for things to change.
    Unless someone get stupid and use a dirty or chemical bomb, a tactical nuke and try to blame it on Russia or America sending active duty troops or planes across the border to fight against Russia. Then Russia would do what we would do if we were in that situation. Go nuclear.

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