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Canada's defense investment plans put it on track to meet NATO guideline, minister says

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Canada's defense investment plans put it on track to meet NATO guideline, minister says
News

News

Canada's defense investment plans put it on track to meet NATO guideline, minister says

2024-06-14 23:06 Last Updated At:23:12

BRUSSELS (AP) — Canada looks on track to meet NATO’s military spending guideline by the end of the decade, Defense Minister Bill Blair said Friday, notably by boosting investment in the Arctic near its shared border with Russia as the region warms quickly because of climate change.

After Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, NATO allies agreed to halt budget cuts and move toward spending 2% of their gross domestic product on defense within a decade. Canada was barely spending 1% at the time.

Last year, as it became clear that Russia’s war with Ukraine would grind on, they decided that 2% should be a spending minimum. According to NATO figures, Canada was estimated to be spending 1.33% of GDP on its military budget in 2023.

“Our country finds itself at a pivotal moment. Our sovereignty and our security are no longer guaranteed by our geographic location," Blair said. Canada is surrounded by three oceans with NATO's biggest ally, the U.S., as its neighbor.

"But the new threat environment, the greater accessibility of our Arctic, the new technologies and the actions of our adversaries have taught us that we need to be ready,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels.

Blair said that he expects Canada's defense spending to climb to at least 1.75% of GDP by 2029, but that other investment, notably replacing the country's aging submarine fleet or purchasing integrated air defense and missile systems, would probably push the figure past the 2% mark.

“I believe it brings us inevitably to over 2% of defense spending. But I’ve got some work to do in order to be able to articulate that both to my own country and to our allies,” he said.

Canada already plans to buy surveillance aircraft, helicopters and restock its ammunition supplies.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said that he expects around two thirds of the alliance’s 32 member countries to spend 2% of GDP on their defense budgets this year, up from just three countries a decade ago.

A general view of a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine council in defense ministers format at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, June 13, 2024. NATO defense ministers gathered Thursday hoping to agree on a new plan to provide long-term security assistance and military training to Ukraine, after Hungary promised not to veto the scheme as long as it's not forced to take part. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

A general view of a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine council in defense ministers format at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, June 13, 2024. NATO defense ministers gathered Thursday hoping to agree on a new plan to provide long-term security assistance and military training to Ukraine, after Hungary promised not to veto the scheme as long as it's not forced to take part. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Canada's Defense Minister Bill Blair, center, speaks with Estonia's Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur, left, and Finland's Defense Minister Antti Hakkanen during a meeting of the North Atlantic Council in NATO defense ministers format at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Canada's Defense Minister Bill Blair, center, speaks with Estonia's Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur, left, and Finland's Defense Minister Antti Hakkanen during a meeting of the North Atlantic Council in NATO defense ministers format at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont is seeking an assessment to determine whether last week’s flooding, which damaged homes, knocked down bridges and washed out roads, qualifies for a federal disaster declaration and aid.

The flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Beryl happened a year after the state experienced catastrophic flooding that left some victims still awaiting home buyouts or repairs.

“We know this storm has done tremendous damage in many communities, and those impacted will need help to recover," Gov. Phil Scott said in a statement Saturday. “That’s why it’s so critical for Vermonters to report their damage to help us demonstrate the need for these federal resources.”

Two people were killed by the flooding, including a motorist in Lyndonville and a man who was riding an all-terrain-vehicle in Peacham, authorities said.

Some of the hardest-hit riverside communities were Barre, Hardwick, Lyndonville, Moretown and Plainfield, but the estimated $15 million in damage to roads and other public infrastructure was more widespread. Damage assessments will be done in eight of Vermont's fourteen counties. A public assistance disaster declaration would provide 75% reimbursement to communities for responding to and repairing public infrastructure damaged by the storm, the governor said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency must verify at least $1.1 million in response and public infrastructure recovery costs for the state to qualify for a major disaster declaration, according to Scott. For counties to qualify, they must show damages of $4.60 per capita, Scott's office said.

An individual assistance declaration would give some financial assistance to homeowners and renters for property losses. They are encouraged to report property losses by calling 211 or visiting www.vermont211.org.

Signs are displayed outside the town hall, Sunday, July 14, 2024, in Plainfield, Vt., a community that had some of the worst damage in last week's flooding. (AP Photo/Lisa Rathke)

Signs are displayed outside the town hall, Sunday, July 14, 2024, in Plainfield, Vt., a community that had some of the worst damage in last week's flooding. (AP Photo/Lisa Rathke)

FILE - The remains of an eight unit apartment building that locals call the Heartbreak Hotel are in Plainfield, Vermont, on July 12, 2024, after flood waters and debris caused by the aftermath of Hurricane Beryl pulled several of the apartments into the Great Brook waterway. Vermont is seeking a federal assessment to determine whether last week’s flooding, which damaged homes, knocked out bridges and washed out roads, qualifies for a federal disaster declaration and aid. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, file)

FILE - The remains of an eight unit apartment building that locals call the Heartbreak Hotel are in Plainfield, Vermont, on July 12, 2024, after flood waters and debris caused by the aftermath of Hurricane Beryl pulled several of the apartments into the Great Brook waterway. Vermont is seeking a federal assessment to determine whether last week’s flooding, which damaged homes, knocked out bridges and washed out roads, qualifies for a federal disaster declaration and aid. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, file)

FILE - An overwhelmed residents surveys the damage following flooding caused by the remnants of Hurricane Beryl, July 11, 2024, in Plainfield, Vt. Vermont is seeking a federal assessment to determine whether last week’s flooding, which damaged homes, knocked out bridges and washed out roads, qualifies for a federal disaster declaration and aid. (AP Photo/Dmitry Belyakov, file)

FILE - An overwhelmed residents surveys the damage following flooding caused by the remnants of Hurricane Beryl, July 11, 2024, in Plainfield, Vt. Vermont is seeking a federal assessment to determine whether last week’s flooding, which damaged homes, knocked out bridges and washed out roads, qualifies for a federal disaster declaration and aid. (AP Photo/Dmitry Belyakov, file)

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