Latvian defence spending in 2017 will increase from 1.4 to 1.7% to reach required by NATO 2% in 2018 according to the laws passed by Latvian parliament. This comes after the recent election of Donald Trump as the new US president who claimed to “change the NATO since some member states don’t make required contributions”. Latvian foreign ministry pointed out however that the increase of expenses started already long before the elections in USA.
The post-Soviet Latvia is in an especially difficult situation after the annexation of Crimea in 2014 because nearly a quarter of its population is ethnically Russian what could be used by the hypothetical adversary. Anti-Russian elements in Western politics, name Baltic states as the next possible target of Russia’s expansion. Lithuania already in 2015 reintroduced partial military conscription and all Baltic states introduced euro as their currency which is seen as another form of protection and this year during the NATO summit in Poland it was decided that there will be NATO troops stationing in Baltic states and Poland.
Other countries of the region have military budgets oscillating around 1% of their GDP and are known to have less anti-Russian stance.
Military expenses by country (as % of GDP, World Bank 2015 )
Latvia 1.4% (1.7% in 2017)
Lithuania 1.1% (1.9% in 2017)
Czech Republic 1.0%