U.S. President Donald Trump criticized world leaders on his way to the NATO Summit in Brussels. European officials had a warning for him in return. Brussels is just the first stop of an international trip that will take Trump through Britain and end with a controversial summit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.
CGTN’s Daniel Ryntjes reports.
Trump is en route to Brussels where he’ll attend the NATO Summit on Wednesday. Then Thursday, it’s on to London, where Prime Minister Theresa May has been dealing with the resignation of some key Cabinet ministers opposed to her ‘softer’ approach on Brexit.
The weekend will bring a trip to Scotland for golf at a course Trump owns there. By Monday, he’ll be in Helsinki for his first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. As he was leaving the White House just a few hours ago, Trump repeated his criticism that many members of the NATO alliance don’t pay their fair share of alliance costs.
“NATO has not treated us fairly, but I think we’ll work something out. We pay far too much and they pay far too little, but we will work it out. And all countries will be happy,” President Trump said. “With the UK, that’s a situation that’s been going on for a long time. So I have NATO, I have the UK, which is in somewhat turmoil, and I have Putin. Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all, who would think, who would think.”
One of the goals of this NATO summit is to shore up the collective defense to counter Russia in Europe. Trump’s decision to meet with Vladimir Putin shortly after that has provoked concern that it may lead to concessions that other members of NATO will not be happy about.
As to spending, partly attributed to American pressure tactics, NATO members are making greater commitments. At a press conference announcing a cooperation agreement between NATO, the European Commission and the European Council, there was a pointed message for the U.S. President.
“Dear president Trump, America does not have and will not have a better ally than Europe. Today, Europeans spend on defense many times more than Russia and as much as China. And I think you can have no doubt, Mr. President, that this is an investment in common American and European defense and security, which can’t be said with confidence about Russian or Chinese spending. […] Dear America, appreciate your allies. After all, you don’t have that many,” President of the European Council Donald Tusk said.
NATO leaders have some experience dealing with Donald Trump at various international gatherings and they know that one of the President’s key weapons is his unpredictability. However, that will extend beyond the summit itself, as they no doubt will want to know what he envisages for the meeting with Vladimir Putin.