July 11, 2023

Nebraska’s Sen. Ricketts, at NATO summit, urges member countries to pay their share

Omaha World-Herald

LINCOLN — Speaking from the site of this year’s NATO Summit, Nebraska GOP Sen. Pete Ricketts called Tuesday for the member countries to fulfill their defense spending commitments.

Ricketts, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, was part of a bipartisan congressional delegation attending the summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.

The delegation is being led by U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), co-chairs of the Senate NATO Observer Group. The delegation visited the U.S. Army Base in Pabrade, Lithuania, on Monday and spoke Tuesday at an afternoon press conference. They were also slated to meet with NATO leaders during the trip.

During the press conference, Ricketts congratulated the European members of the alliance for their quick response to Ukraine following the Russian invasion. He also praised Turkey and other NATO members for “finding common ground” to allow Sweden to join the alliance.

But he also called for all NATO members to fulfill their pledges to commit 2% of their gross domestic product to defense spending. He noted that members had agreed to that level of spending in 2014 but, as of last year, only seven members had done so.

“American taxpayers should not be the only ones who are supporting this alliance,” he said. “It’s important that all NATO members reach that 2%. And I think what you’re going to see come out of this conference is that is a floor to be reached.”

On Friday, Ricketts and 34 Senate colleagues sent a letter urging President Joe Biden to push for a “more concrete level of commitment” by NATO members. The letter said that the United States, accounting for a little more than half of combined GDP, has paid more than 70% of NATO’s defense spending.

During the Tuesday press conference, Ricketts also called for the alliance to be engaged with addressing threats from China as a means to keep the peace. He said China has been supporting Russia with economic trade and buying Russian energy.


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