Trump’s NATO Twitter assault forward of Brussels summit

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US President Donald Trump is haranguing his European allies for not spending sufficient on defence as NATO begins its most troublesome summit in years.

A yawning transatlantic rift widens as President Trump — who’s displaying remarkably poor understanding of arithmetic for a profitable property billionaire — accuses Europe of ‘freeloading’ off the US defence finances.

“NATO has not handled us pretty … We pay far an excessive amount of and so they pay far too little,” Trump mentioned as he left the White Home.

Trump set the tone for the two-day assembly earlier than he even touched down in Brussels, tweeting a requirement that NATO allies “reimburse” america for defence prices.

His stance earned him a summit eve rebuke by EU President Donald Tusk who mentioned that Trump ought to “admire” his allies – including that america didn’t have many.

Whereas NATO officers and diplomats will attempt to promote a picture of unity within the face of the menace from Russia, the tensions between Brussels and the White Home are rising ever sharper.

Trump mentioned earlier than leaving Washington that his assembly in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin subsequent Monday “stands out as the best” a part of his European tour, which additionally features a journey to Britain, the place the federal government is in disaster over Brexit.

And he vowed to not be “taken benefit” of by the European Union, which he accuses of freeloading by counting on america for its defence whereas limiting US imports into the bloc, the world’s largest market.

Nobody is aware of for positive what Trump will say at NATO and diplomats additionally fear that European leaders may react, making a tense scenario worse. However in contrast to his latest tweets by which he berated allies, Trump struck a extra affable tone in particular person earlier than taking his flight: “We’ll work it out and all international locations might be completely satisfied.”


Trump has repeatedly berated European NATO members and Canada for lagging on a pledge to purpose to spend two per cent of GDP on defence. However he doesn’t seem to have the ability to separate nationwide defence spending from taking part in a world alliance.

Trump claimed on Monday that the US was “paying for 90 per cent of NATO”. It isn’t clear how he arrived at this determine.

In response to alliance figures, the US will account for just below 70 per cent of defence spending in NATO in 2018. That’s $706 billion out of the simply over $1 trillion spent by all 29 members this 12 months — most of them with economies far smaller than the US.

In uncooked phrases, Britain is the subsequent largest defence spender with an estimated $62 billion in 2018, adopted by France with $52 billion and Germany with $51 billion.

Uncooked expenditure figures, nevertheless, don’t bear in mind the relative dimension of every nation’s financial system, and NATO international locations have made defence spending commitments based mostly on their gross home product.

Alarmed by declining army spending throughout the alliance and because the Ukraine disaster raged, NATO members in 2014 pledged to “purpose to maneuver in the direction of the 2 per cent guideline inside a decade”.

The US is by far NATO’s largest spender by way of GDP in addition to uncooked expenditure, shelling out an estimated three.5 per cent of GDP on defence in 2018, based on NATO figures. Greece is second, with 2.27 per cent — albeit of a a lot smaller financial system — adopted by Estonia with 2.14 per cent and Britain with 2.1 per cent. Germany, Europe’s financial powerhouse, lags on 1.24 per cent and has are available in for withering criticism from Trump.

Trump has accused NATO allies of “owing” cash to the alliance.

This confuses the 2 per cent pledge, which pertains to spending on their very own defence budgets, with monetary contributions made on to NATO.

All 29 members contribute based on an agreed cost-sharing components based mostly once more on the scale of their economies. As the largest financial system the US pays 22 per cent of the entire, adopted by Germany with 14 per cent and France and Britain with 10.5 per cent.

In response to a joint declaration ready upfront of the summit, NATO members will make an “unwavering dedication to all features of the defence funding pledge agreed on the 2014 Wales Summit” which incorporates the 2 per cent nationwide defence expenditure goal.

So the place Trump is getting his monetary figures from is a thriller.


The assembly of 29 Western leaders has the potential to show into one other public bust-up following a divisive and bad-tempered summit of G7 nations in Canada final month.

There have been fears that Trump, eager to be seen to make a breakthrough with Kremlin strongman Putin, may make concessions that may weaken Western unity over points like Ukraine and Syria.

Trump has ramped up his rhetoric forward of the talks, explicitly linking NATO with the transatlantic commerce row.

“The European Union makes it inconceivable for our farmers and staff and firms to do enterprise in Europe (US has a $151 billion commerce deficit), after which they need us to fortunately defend them by NATO, and properly pay for it. Simply doesn’t work!” he tweeted as he arrived in Brussels.

European officers have expressed hopes that NATO members can paper over their variations however European Council President Donald Tusk’s salvo uncovered the deep transatlantic divisions.

“Expensive America, admire your allies, in any case you don’t have that many,” Tusk mentioned, earlier than reminding Trump that European troops had come to America’s help following the September 11, 2001 assaults on america.

“Please bear in mind this tomorrow once we meet on the NATO summit, however above all whenever you meet President Putin in Helsinki. It’s at all times price figuring out who’s your strategic pal and who’s your strategic downside,” he mentioned.

Trump will meet the Russian chief within the Finnish capital on July 16 for his or her first summit amid an ongoing investigation within the US into attainable Trump marketing campaign collusion with Russia.

European diplomats concern a repeat of the G7, when Trump clashed along with his Western allies, withdrawing from a joint assertion and calling Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “dishonest and weak” earlier than assembly North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un at a summit afterwards and praising him as “very gifted”.

Earlier than departing the White Home, Trump mentioned he “can’t say proper now” whether or not Putin was a pal or foe.

“I believe Putin stands out as the best of all of them,” he mentioned in reference to his terse relationship with Europe. “I believe that getting together with Russia, getting together with China, getting together with others is an effective factor, not a nasty factor.”

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