McCain: NATO allies must spend 2 percent of GDP on defense

Sen. John McCainJohn McCainGroups urge Senate to oppose defense language on for-profit colleges Pelosi, Dems rush to defense of Wasserman Schultz Reid: We're not breaking the budget deal MORE (R-Ariz.) said NATO members needed to spend at least 2 percent of their GDP on defense in order to stop Russia from invading neighboring countries.

“Considering what President Putin is doing right now in Ukraine, it is more important than ever for every NATO ally to spend at least 2 percent of its GDP on defense,” McCain said Wednesday at Vilnius University in Lithuania. “I'm pleased that Lithuania has pledged and is planning to do this, and the sooner you follow through on that commitment the better.”

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The United States has greatly reduced military spending lately, but it remains above 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

McCain has criticized the Obama administration for “conceding” Crimea, which was annexed by Russia last month. It is believed Russian President Vladimir Putin has also set up military forces along the eastern border of Ukraine.

“We cannot, we must not, give up on Crimea, or any other part of Ukraine or other sovereign country that Mr. Putin seeks to claim by force,” McCain said.

Congress passed a bill that sanctions Russian leaders involved in invasion of Crimea and gave Ukraine a $1 billion loan to ensure the sovereignty of the rest of the country. But McCain has said the U.S. and NATO allies need to do more to persuade Putin to stop before he decides to invade more countries.

“Unfortunately, it should now be clear to all of us that Russia under President Putin has taken a very dark turn, and our highest hopes for our relationship with Russia have not borne out,” McCain said. “It should definitely be clear now in light of Mr. Putin's military intervention in Ukraine.” 

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