The United States must work with NATO partners to enhance the alliance's combat capability. The funds should be used to deter opponents, including Russia. The head of the US Department of Defense Mark Esper stated this, as the Pentagon press service reported.
“That's everything from making sure that our allies and partners contribute at least 2 percent of their [gross domestic product] to defense. We've made a lot of progress on that in the last couple years, but much, much more needs to be done,” he said.
Esper said the increase in NATO spending is welcome, and now the funds should be directed towards deterring adversaries.
"We need to deter Russia. We need to strengthen NATO and, again, enhance our partners as we look forward," he stated
Esper called Russia the world's troublemaker - it annexed Crimea, it is waging a war in Ukraine, threatening NATO allies, and sending troops to Syria and Libya.
At the same time, according to Esper, the Russian Federation is a slightly less difficult challenge than China, which seeks to oust the United States from the region and preferably from the world arena.