NATO says alliance defense spending is moving in the "right direction," though one country, the United States, still accounts for almost three quarters of the alliance's total defense expenditures.

In NATO's annual report released Thursday, the U.S. estimate stood at 72 percent of total spending.

NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said that last year, 16 NATO countries not only stopped cuts to defense spending but increased expenditures in real terms.

Stoltenberg said that "cuts in defense spending by European allies have practically stopped."