NATO is in pre-war period: UK defense minister

NATO members who fail to meet the 2% defense spending threshold are playing “Russian roulette,” Grant Shapps has said

NATO members not spending 2% of their GDP on defense are playing “Russian roulette” with the West’s future, UK Defense Secretary Grant Shapps has claimed.   
In an article for The Telegraph published on Wednesday, Shapps said members of the US-led bloc must accept the West is now in a “pre-war” world and therefore need to raise their military expenditure.  
Many NATO states have for years struggled to reach an agreed threshold of 2% of GDP for defense spending, but the process gained momentum after the start of the Ukraine crisis in 2014 and especially after the launch of Russia’s military operation in 2022.  
“We must look beyond that target to shore up our defenses. Yet some nations are still failing to meet even the 2%. That cannot continue. We can’t afford to play Russian roulette with our future,” Shapps wrote.  
Only 11 of NATO’s 32 countries met the bloc’s guideline last year. France and Germany were among those which spent less on defense, according to an annual report, though Paris and Berlin recently pledged they will meet targets this year. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg claimed in February that 18 members are on track this year to meet the 2% target.  

In an article marking NATO’s 75th anniversary, Shapps said the bloc’s members “must give urgent thought once again to the alliance’s future.”   
“We have moved from a post-war to a pre-war world. Russia is menacing our neighbors. China is increasingly belligerent. Iran is using its proxies to cause regional havoc from the Middle East to the straits of Yemen. And North Korea is perpetually rattling its nuclear sabre,” the defense secretary claimed.  
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk delivered a similar message last week, when he said Europe had entered a “pre-war era” in which “any scenario” is possible. Tusk insisted that “no one in Europe will be able to feel safe” if the West does not provide Kiev with sufficient equipment and ammunition for the conflict with Russia.  
Echoing those remarks, UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron said on Wednesday that the West needs to “win the argument for NATO all over again with a new generation,” claiming that Europe faces the same situation as in 1938.   
Numerous Western leaders have warned in recent weeks that Russia could attack NATO within a few years. Russian President Vladimir Putin has dismissed those claims as “utter nonsense” designed to “beat the money out” of the populations of Western countries.