to the United States. We are bound together by our shared commitment to the principles of democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law. Together, we rebuilt Western Europe after World War II and created institutions that produced stability and wealth on both sides of the Atlantic. Today, Europe is one of the most prosperous regions in the world and our most significant trading partner. Although the menace of Soviet communism is gone, new threats test our will. Russia is using subversive measures to weakenthe credibility of America’s commitment to Europe, undermine transatlantic unity, and weaken European institutions and governments. Withits invasions of Georgia and Ukraine, Russia demonstrated its willingness to violatethe sovereigntyof states in the region. Russia continues to intimidate its neighbors with threatening behavior, such as nuclear posturing and the forward deployment of offensive capabilities....The United States is safer when Europe is prosperous and stable, and can help defend our shared interests and ideals.The United States remains firmly committed to our European allies and partners. The NATO alliance of free and sovereign states is one of our great advantages over our competitors, and the United States remains committed to Article V of the Washington Treaty. European allies and partners increase our strategicreach and provide access to forward basing and overflight rights for global operations. Together we confront shared threats. European nations are contributing thousands of troops to help fight jihadist terrorists in Afghanistan, stabilize Iraq, and fight terrorist organizations across Africa and the greater Middle East. The NATO alliance will become stronger when all members assume greater responsibility for and pay their fair share to protect our mutual interests, sovereignty, and values. ...The United States fulfills our defense responsibilities and expects others to do the same. We expect our European allies to increase defense spending to 2 percent of gross domestic product by 2024, with 20 percent of this spending devoted to increasing military capabilities. On NATO’s eastern flank, we will continue to strengthen deterrence and defense, and catalyze frontline allies and partners’ efforts to better defend themselves. We will work with NATO to improve its integrated air and missile defense capabilities to counter existing and projected ballistic and cruise missile threats, particularly from Iran. We will increase counterterrorism and cybersecurity cooperation. The Secretary of Defense's new National Defense Strategy (NDS), issued in February 2018, reinforces these points. It too describes Russia's role as one of the key threats to the U.S., and strongly emphasizes the value of strategic partnerships and NATO The central challenge to U.S.