Fact Check: Bulgaria Will NOT Spend The Largest GDP Percentage On New Weapons In NATO This Year

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  • от: Lead Stories автор
Fact Check: Bulgaria Will NOT Spend The Largest GDP Percentage On New Weapons In NATO This Year Wrong Math

Will Bulgaria spend the largest share of its gross domestic product (GDP) on defense in 2023 compared to its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies? No, that's not true: According to published data on the expenses of the countries of the alliance for the period 2014-2023, the alliance estimates Bulgaria will spend $1.885 billion, or 3.413 billion Bulgarian Lev, for defense in 2023, of which 35.1% will go to new equipment, including weapons. With an estimated 1.84% of GDP share spent on defense, of which 35.1% includes equipment purchases, Bulgaria's contribution as a share of GDP falls below that of 11 other NATO members, and its share spent on equipment, including weapons, puts it behind six other NATO members.

The claim appeared in a TikTok video (archived here) published on July 8, with a caption reading:

The poorest country in NATO, Bulgaria, will spend the largest percentage of its money on new weapons. Where will the money come from? From loans, of course. We're burying our children with loans and getting them into World War III. Resignation and prison for this government. Traitors!

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2023-07-20 230212.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Fri Jul 14 20:02:16 2023 UTC)

Of the 30 countries in the alliance, 11 allocate a higher percentage share of their GDP on defense expenditures than Bulgaria. The highest share is allocated by Poland with 3.90%, followed by the United States with 3.49%. Of the share of defense expenditures used for equipment, including weapons, Poland spends the most, with 52.4% of its defense budget going to such expenditures, and new member Finland comes in second, spending 50.8% of its defense expenditures on equipment.

Of Bulgaria's main categories of estimated defense expenditure for 2023, 52.6% are listed as personnel costs, with 35.1% listed as "major equipment, including related R&D", and no breakdown is available on precisely how much is spent on "new weapons". But at least six members of NATO will spend more of their defense budget on major equipment than Bulgaria this year.

At a 2014 summit, NATO members pledged to allocate at least 2% of their GDPs to defense by 2025. Despite the increase of 0.22% compared to 2022, Bulgaria is expected to fall short of the 2% GDP spending on defense targets.

The latest data from the organization showed that 11 out of the 29 NATO members with armed forces (Iceland excluded) met or exceeded the 2% target and 19 members did not, with France coming close at 1.94% followed by Bulgaria at 1.84% and with Luxembourg at the lowest end of the scale, with an estimated 0.72% of its GDP going to NATO defense expenditures.

According to its Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, NATO is currently undergoing "the biggest overhaul of collective defense and deterrence since the Cold War" after the organization emerged as the chief supporter of Ukraine in its defense effort against a Russian invasion.

Additional Lead Stories fact checks of claims about NATO and Ukraine can be found here.

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