A Minnow in NATO Seeks Faster Defense Buildup After Trump’s Win

Lithuania’s parliament called for a faster increase in defense spending to meet targets set by NATO, underscoring rising concern among the military alliance’s easternmost members over President-elect Donald Trump stance on U.S. commitments to defend its allies.

The Baltic country’s legislature approved a non-binding resolution calling for an increase in defense spending to 2 percent of gross domestic product by 2018, compared with an earlier 2020 timeline. Lithuania is forecast to spend 1.49 percent of its economic output on defense this year, according to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Only five of the alliance’s 27 members meet the 2 percent requirement.

Since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the separatist war in eastern Ukraine, NATO has stationed troops and equipment and carried out additional military drills in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Concern among the former Soviet republics, which all border their Cold War patron, has increased since Trump said the U.S. should only defend allies that had “fulfilled their obligations” and that he’d consider recognizing Russia’s takeover of Crimea, an act that has been condemned by NATO and European Union states.

The advanced schedule is needed “to take responsibility for security of the state of Lithuania and its citizens, thus earning the trust of NATO allies and aiming to provide the conditions for NATO to implement the North Atlantic treaty,” parliament said in the resolution.

Lithuania and Latvia are increasing defense spending most among NATO members this year, while Estonia already meets the requirement, according to the alliance.

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