US officials have complained that Ottawa’s “defence deficits” are “straining partner relations” in the military bloc.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has privately told NATO officials that Canada will “never” meet the bloc’s military spending target, according to a leaked Pentagon document obtained by the Washington Post.
Although NATO requires member states to spend at least 2% of their GDP on defence, Trudeau has informed the alliance that “Canada will never reach 2% of defense spending,” the document says, noting that Ottawa’s military budget has not exceeded 1.4% of its budget. economic production in almost 30 years.
Obtained as part of a set of leaked intelligence files that first appeared online in March, the document goes on to cite the United States’ complaints about its northern neighbor, saying that “Widespread deficits in defense hamper Canadian capabilities, while having partner relationships and alliance contributions” within NATO. .
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“Politically motivated” acquisition decisions have also left parts of the Canadian military underequipped, according to the leaked assessment, noting that most of its 89 Leopard 2 tanks “require extensive maintenance.” In a unit of 40 tanks, only nine are operational, while the army now has only half the pilots it needs to be ready.
These “enduring” deficiencies led the Canadian military to conclude earlier this year that it “could not conduct a major operation while simultaneously maintaining leadership of its NATO battle group.” [in Latvia] and aid to Ukraine,” the document adds.
When asked about Canada’s spending deficits earlier this week, Trudeau sidestepped the question, saying Ottawa would “do its part” while explaining that “governments have a challenge with a bunch of different priorities that we have to… get the balance right.”
According to NATO, Canada currently spends about 1.29% of its GDP on defence.
Reached by the Post, Defense Ministry spokesman Daniel Minden said Canada continues to make “significant investments to equip our armed forces,” citing the purchase of 88 F-35 fighter jets for $19 billion earlier of this year While Minden added that Ottawa’s current policy calls for a 70 per cent increase in defense spending by 2026, Canada will still fall short of NATO’s 2 per cent requirement even if it meets that target.
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