A record 23 of NATO’s 32 member nations are hitting the Western military alliance’s defense spending target this year, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, as Russia’s war in Ukraine has raised the threat of expanding conflict in Europe, Report informs referring to AP.

The estimated figure is a nearly fourfold increase from 2021, when only six nations were meeting the goal. That was before Russian President Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

“Europeans are doing more for their collective security than just a few years ago,” Stoltenberg said in a speech at the Wilson Center research group.

After the speech, Stoltenberg met at the White House with President Joe Biden. The US president said the alliance has become “larger, stronger and more united than it’s ever been” during Stoltenberg’s tenure.

Biden spoke affectionately of Stoltenberg, calling him “pal” and saying he wished that Stoltenberg, who has been NATO’s secretary general since 2014, could serve another term when the current one expires in October.