Germany 'captive of Russia', says Trump ahead of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit
Germany 'captive of Russia', says Trump ahead of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit
Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump review French tanks during the Bastille Day military parade in Paris on July 14 2017
JOEL SAGET AFP
13 July, 2018, 04:07
European Council President Donald Tusk said on Tuesday in a message to Trump that "it is always worth knowing who is your strategic friend and who is your strategic problem".
Carefully-choreographed sessions and the leaders' dinner in a Brussels museum on Wednesday night are unlikely to mollify Trump, Nato diplomats say, as they found out to their dismay in May a year ago at a special dinner to welcome the president.
Still, three senior US officials told Reuters that no one in the Pentagon, including Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis, knows what Trump might say in Helsinki.
"I have to say, I think it's very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia where we're supposed to be guarding against Russia", Trump said at a breakfast with Stoltenberg.
Their planes were getting gassed up and ready to go, but in his signature rude, late and ignorant manner Trump showed up.
"Like in football, fair play and team spirit is what we need more than ever", Michel said in an apparent jab at President Donald Trump who keeps questioning why Washington must carry such a heavy financial burden in defense of the West.
"We do have a lot of allies, but we can not be taken advantage of".
While U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison has said that the plan for this year's summit is to focus on strategies to counter Russia, Trump may spend the day berating member countries on military spending.
"I do believe everybody should get to 2 per cent quickly, but the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance is something that's very important to the United States and our citizenry, and things that are said to try and create instability, all that it does is strengthen Putin", Corker said, describing concerns "about conciliatory things that could occur in Helsinki" when Trump sits down with the Russian president.
Trump has spent weeks berating members of the alliance for failing to increase military spending, accusing Europe of freeloading off the USA and even raising doubts about whether he would come to members' defence as required if they were ever attacked.
"Remember the word '$33 billion more' they're paying", Trump said in his closing appearance.
Trump's verbal attack on Germany came in his first official event in Brussels Wednesday, setting a combative tone for the two-day summit of the alliance in Brussels. "Today, Europeans (collectively) spend on defence many times more than Russian Federation, and as much as China".
The exchange was part of an uncomfortable day as anxious Western allies were subjected to the USA president's "America first" approach.
With tensions in the Western alliance running high over Trump's trade tariffs on European steel and his demands for more contributions to ease the burden on USA taxpayers, the latest remarks fueled concerns among allies over the U.S. role in keeping the peace that has reigned since World War Two.
"I'm going to tell NATO: You've got to start paying your bills. That's probably the worst-case scenario right now", the official said.
"We received clear assurances from the American side that Ukrainian interests will be confirmed and protected (at the summit)", said a Ukrainian diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Yet this year's meeting comes at a tense time for transatlantic relations-and not only because the president is set to sit down one-on-one with Russian president Vladimir Putin on May 16 in Helsinki.
"That was an attack on Germany and an attack on Russia", Browne told CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe" moments after the president's comments on Wednesday morning.
Trump has preferred to take aim at allies.
Tusk noted that Europe has promised to increase common defense spending, but noted that the European Union contributes more than Russian Federation and as much as China. "We have an independent energy supply, we are an independent country, we are just diversifying".
"I think that getting along with Russian Federation, getting along with China, getting along with others is a good thing, not a bad thing", he added.
Tusk's pointed observation, offered as he signed a joint declaration with Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, is unlikely to be the only rhetorical salvo fired this week.
Trump's decision to impose the steel tariffs created more distance.
A source close to French President Emmanuel Macron said Trump had voiced his "personal attachment" to Europe and gave "rather positive and constructive messages" to his allies. The Nato chief said that the Europeans and Canada are projected to spend around $266 billion more on defense by 2024.
But Trump upped the ante in a closed-door meeting with allies Wednesday, demanding they double that amount to 4 percent of gross domestic product.
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