U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel leaned on fellow NATO member states to up their financial stake in the alliance in order to counter an increasingly aggressive Russia during a trip to Brussels on Wednesday.
The secretary of defense’s urging for greater financial contributions from NATO members comes as several of the bloc’s governments continue to slash their military budgets, which has forced the U.S. to shoulder more of the costs of keeping the alliance afloat.
“Over the long term, current spending trends threaten NATO’s integrity and capabilities,” Hagel told reporters.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Hagel spoke forcefully about the need to counter Moscow and said Russia’s recent actions in neighboring Ukraine “constitute the most significant and direct challenge to European security since the end of the Cold War.”
The sectary of defense called on NATO’s members to “issue a definitive declaration to reverse current trends and rebalance the alliance’s burden-sharing,” according to a statement published by the Pentagon.
Hagel’s trip to the NATO headquarters in Belgium coincided with President Barack Obama’s state visit to Poland. During a speech in Warsaw, Obama pledged to tap Congress for an additional $1 billion to fund new European security measures.