Sanchez arrives at the NATO Summit as the ally that spends the least on Defense

As the last NATO member in terms of military spending refers. At least, according to the estimates of the Atlantic Alliance for 2024But if you look at the consolidated statistics, those of 2023Spain is not doing any better either: the second to last country that allocates the least percentage of its GDP to defense. The President of the Government arrived last night with this backpack, Pedro Sanchezto Washington (USA) to participate in the Alliance Summitin which not only the invasion of Ukraine by Russia or the war in Loopbut also the efforts of the allies to reach that 2% of GDP which they committed to in 2014. Then, the deadline to achieve it was 2024something that at the end of the year there will be complimentaccording to these forecasts, 23 of the 31 partners (not counting Iceland, which has no armed forces). But Spain has been delaying that objective and now the date set by the Government is 2029. Until then there is a long way to go from the 1.28% with which this exercise will conclude. A path of about 14 billion extra.

Despite this, Sánchez arrives at this Summit with a now classic speech that focuses, on the one hand, on insist that Spain will reach 2% of GDP in military spending in five years, for which he will ask tranquillity to the rest of the members. And, on the other hand, remembering the Commitment of the Spanish Armed Forces to collective security after having increased the number of personnel in the different allied deterrent forces (land, naval and air) following NATO’s request to deal with the dRussian challenge. He has even joined new missions, leading some of them, such as the Slovakia’s battalion with almost 800 uniformed personnel.

But the reality is that Spainin the eyes of the Alliance, has not done his homework and closes the group of eight countries that have not yet complied, being Croatia (1.81%), the closest to achieving it, followed by Portugal (1.55), Italy (1.49), Canada (1.37), Belgium (1,30), Luxembourg (1.29) and Slovenia (1.29). They all invest more than as a percentage of GDP.

Southern flank

But in addition to recommitting to reaching that figure, Sánchez arrives at the Summit with a message that the Spanish Government has been repeating for years: the need for The EU, and especially NATO, should look more to the southern flank, to Africa and more specifically to Sahel. A territory that lives under the threat of jihadism and in which Russia is increasingly increasing its presence and influence While Europe closes key missions for stability, the most notable, the EU training mission in Mali.

So Sanchez will again insist that there is risks and threats beyond the eastern flank, something that already reflected the Strategic Concept approved at the 2022 Madrid Summit.

However, that request contrasts with the reduction of the Spanish military presence on the neighbouring continent. Following the closure of the mission of Maliwhere Spain was the largest contributor, Defense announced yesterday a Partial withdrawal of the “Ivory” air detachmentwhich supported the missions in the Sahel with its aircraft and 60 troops from Senegal. From being a deployment permanent will pass to temporary according to the needs, leaving in Dakar a reduced team which will be reinforced when that plane moves.