Growing defense spending and a new rival to NATO?

The globe is entering a dangerous new phase as the nations of the world pick sides in what appears to be becoming a precarious decade. Soaring defense spending and the stockpiling of weapons doesn't make that picture look any better, but they may be necessary in a new era of conflict. The situation comes at a time when the West is struggling with diminished military recruitment, as well as pressure from giant debt loads and higher interest rates, though some of those items may have to change soon to adjust to the new environment.

Quote: "Across Europe and Canada, NATO Allies are, this year, increasing defense spending by 18%, and 23 allies are going to spend 2% of GDP or more on defense," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a press conference with President Biden earlier this week. "It is also important for the United States to know that a lot of this money is actually spent here in the United States. Allies are buying more and more equipment from the U.S. So NATO is good for U.S. security, but NATO is also good for U.S. jobs."

Stoltenberg separately revealed consultations about how many nuclear warheads should be pulled from storage warehouses and put on standby, and has pledged to boost the number of NATO troops on high alert by more than sevenfold to over 300K. Keeping its allies assured is also a top priority for the U.S. at the moment, as Russia seeks to challenge what it calls the "hegemonic and imperial West." Alliances are being strengthened to create a more formidable anti-U.S. axis, with Russia reaching out to China, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, and most recently - North Korea.

A new pact between Moscow and Pyongyang was signed during Wednesday's meeting between Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un, which pledged military cooperation and outlined a new mutual defense pact that would assist either nation if one was attacked. It wasn't long ago that the Biden administration allowed U.S. weapons to strike inside mainland Russia, and a formidable rival to counter the West-led NATO might finally be showing its face (not CSTO). Also presumed to be in the agreement were the flow of ammunition supplies and the technologies needed for advanced weapons programs.

Economically speaking: Another big feature of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Treaty were ways to neutralize U.S.-led economic sanctions, as well as expanding cooperation in trade and investment. That may include the export of Russian consumer goods and energy supplies to North Korea, and other economic relationships that often prove to be advantages in a long, drawn-out war. Last week, the G7 additionally approved the funding of $50B to Ukraine by using interest income from frozen Russian assets in Western financial institutions, which is sure to spark similar countermeasures and widespread legal challenges.

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