FACT CHECK: Do Only Seven NATO Countries Spend 2 Percent Of Their GDP On Defense?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

Alaska Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan claimed in a July 16 interview that only 7 out of the 31 countries in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) spend 2 percent or more of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defense.

Verdict: True

7 NATO members met the 2% GDP target in 2022, according to NATO. This number is expected to rise to 11 in 2023.

Fact Check:

Sullivan appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where he claimed that only 7 out of the 31 member nations spent more than 2% of their GDP on defense.

“But it’s undermined the sustainability of NATO when only seven of 31 members of NATO currently meet their 2% of GDP obligation for defense spending. And, look, that in my view has the potential to undermine even support for Ukraine in the near term and, longer term, the support for NATO,” Sullivan said. (RELATED: Nikki Haley Claims China Has The Largest Navy In The World)

Sullivan’s claim is true but needs some context. In 2022, 7 out of then 30 member nations spent 2% or more of their GDP on defense, according to the NATO Secretary General’s 2022 report. These nations are Poland, the United States, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Greece and the United Kingdom, the report states.

This number is expected to rise to 11 in 2023, according to Reuters. The four other countries expected to meet that figure are Finland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, the outlet reported.

“Indeed, in 2023, eleven Allies are projected to reach – or exceed – the 2 percent target,” a NATO spokesperson told Check Your Fact. The spokesperson also pointed Check Your Fact to comments made by NATO Secretary General Jen Stoltenberg on July 7.

“Today, we are releasing new defence spending estimates. In 2023, there will be a real increase of 8.3% across European Allies and Canada. This is the biggest increase in decades and the ninth consecutive year of increases in our defence spending. So European Allies and Canada will have invested over 450 billion extra US dollars since we agreed our defence investment pledge in 2014. Then, only three Allies spent 2 % of GDP on defence. This year, eleven Allies reach – or exceed – the target and we expect this number will rise substantially next year,” Stoltenberg said.

Finland joined NATO in April 2023, becoming the 31st member of the alliance, according to The Washington Post. Turkey reversed its opposition to Sweden joining NATO on the eve of the summit in Vilnius, which would make the Nordic country the 32nd member state if it joins, the outlet reported.

Check Your Fact reached out to Sullivan’s office for comment if a response is provided.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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