NATO allies need to sign more contracts with defense companies to boost production as their munitions stocks run out, Alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, urging countries to boost spending to at least 2 percent of GDP as soon as possible, Bloomberg reports.
"We need to do more across the Alliance" to step up proceedings, Stoltenberg said in an interview in Oslo after a two-day meeting of NATO foreign ministers. They discussed Ukraine's bid to join the bloc and other ways to ensure long-term support for the country as it fends off a Russian attack.
"What we really need is the signing of contracts, because then the industry will be ready to invest and increase production," Stoltenberg said.
He added that NATO has invited representatives of the defense industry to join a meeting of defense ministers in Brussels later this month to facilitate contacts.
The NATO secretary general added that he hoped the allies would also agree on a defense industry action plan at a summit in Vilnius in July, which would outline how to increase production and joint procurement, as well as how to ensure interoperability and standardization.
The alliance also agreed to new guidelines on battle-critical munitions, including 155mm artillery shells, to ensure countries have large stockpiles for both continued support to Ukraine and defense needs.
"Until now, allies have been depleting supplies to be able to support Ukraine, which is an unsustainable path, so we need to ramp up production to meet these new and more ambitious goals," Stoltenberg said.
The alliance is set to agree a new defense spending commitment that will be the focus of defense ministers when they meet. Under the current commitment, signed in 2014, the NATO allies agreed to increase spending to 2% of GDP by 2024, but only eight of the 31 members have so far met that goal.
Stoltenberg said discussions were still ongoing, but "we expect the allies to reach 2% as soon as possible, because the war in Ukraine has shown the urgency of this."
Referring to the 2014 pledge, Stoltenberg said: "We had a ten-year vision in Wales, but that was ten years ago, we can't have a new ten-year vision."