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The annexation of Crimea redoubled military planners' efforts to leave behind last decade's focus on asymmetric warfare and concentrate on the very real possibility of having to defend against aggression on the European continent. The nations of Eastern Europe responded by increasing defence spending faster than any other region in the world in 2018. Poland already meets NATO's 2% GDP target, and plans to increase defence spending by 46 billion euros over 15 years. Romania's defence budget exceeded 3 billion USD for the first time in 2016, and Lithuania should meet the NATO 2% target for the first time this year.
As the modernisation of regional armed forces continues and readiness levels increase, NATO members on the eastern flank recognise that the decisive deployment of air power will be critical to deterring and responding to aggression and ensuring collective security. Against this backdrop, we have launched this regional summit, in order to ensure that air power - rotary and fixed-wing - can be leveraged as a critical enabler for the joint force, up to and beyond 2025.