DEFENSE/EU/MILITARY/NATO/SPENDING/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “Despite many European countries boosting their defense budgets, only seven of the 29 NATO allies are currently reaching the recommended spending target of 2% of gross domestic product, according to NATO’s annual report, which was published Thursday [3-14-19]. President Donald Trump has long criticized NATO countries over their failure to meet the 2% target and the new data came as US and NATO officials sought to downplay reports that the Trump administration is seeking to ask allies to pay dramatically more for hosting US troops. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg sought to highlight the spending increases while acknowledging more work needs to be done…While previous US presidents had made similar critiques of NATO members’ defense spending, Trump has made it a central theme of his administration’s foreign policy, repeatedly slamming allies over the issue. In 2014, following Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, all NATO members pledged to meet the 2% target by 2024. At that time only three countries — the US, Greece and the UK — met the requirement.”

Ryan Browne, “NATO report says only 7 members are meeting defense spending targets,” CNN Politics, CNN.com, March 14, 2019 5:16 pm