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Trump tells NATO leaders to increase defense spending to 4%

U.S. President Donald Trump told NATO leaders they should increase their defense spending to 4% of GDP, that is to double the current goal of 2 percent.

NATO allies shrugged off the demand as part and parcel of Trump’s brash push for allies to spend more on their own defense at a summit in Brussels, with a quip from the alliance’s chief that it should aim to meet its goal before reaching further.

“We should first get to 2 pct,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, adding that eight of the 29 allies were meeting that target, while others had a plan to do – turning a leaf on years of defense budget cuts.

Striking a strident tone at the summit, Trump’s aspirational target of 4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) was above the United States own spending on defense.

The United States, the world’s biggest military power, spent some 3.57 percent on defense last year, according to NATO figures.

A White House spokeswoman said his remarks came as he was urging leaders to increase their outlays on defense and were not a formal proposal.

“He suggested that countries not only meet their commitment of 2 percent of their GDP on defense spending, but that they increase it to 4 percent,” Sarah Sanders told reporters.

“Trump wants to see our allies share more of the burden and at a very minimum meet their already stated obligations.”

A source close to French President Emmanuel Macron also played down Trump’s words as rhetoric, saying “it is not a new demand.”

War of Words with Germany

Trump also attacked Germany claiming that it gives billions of dollars to Russia for natural gas purchase, instead of spending this money for the NATO.

Germany has the EU’s biggest economy and has long been accused by US administrations of failing to contribute its fair share to Nato operations but Mr Trump’s comments were particularly stinging.

At a breakfast meeting in Brussels with Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg, the US leader said: “Germany is totally controlled by Russia because they will be getting from 60% to 70% of their energy from Russia, and a new pipeline, and you tell me if that’s appropriate because I think it’s not and I think it’s a very bad thing for Nato.”

Donald Trump tweeted also:

EU figures suggest Russia is responsible for between 50% and 75% of Germany’s gas imports, but gas makes up less than 20% of Germany’s energy mix for power production.

German journalists prompted to correct Donald Trump:

Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected Trump’s accusations that Germany is “totally controlled by Russia.”
“Because of given circumstances I want to point out one thing: I experienced the Soviet occupation of one part of Germany myself. It is good that we are independent today,” said Merkel, who grew up in East Germany, a former satellite state of the Soviet Union.

Germany has given political support for a new Baltic Sea pipeline, Nord Stream 2, which will increase the flow of Russian gas to EU states. The project has been sharply criticized by Poland and others.

The US president also accused Germany of only spending “a little bit over 1%” of its economic output on defense compared to the 4.2% spent by the US “in actual numbers”.

Germany spends 1.24% of GDP on defense and the US 3.5%, according to the latest Nato estimate.

Indicative for Trump’s mood towards his European allies was his tweet a day before the NATO Summit commenced in Brussels.

He has said the US is being “taken advantage of” by other members of the Nato alliance, which was set up in 1949 to counter the Soviet Union, of which Russia is the main successor state.

European Council President Donald Tusk accused him of criticising Europe “almost daily”, tweeting:

sources: reuters, bbc, politico, twitter

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One comment

  1. What Donald Trump conveniently forgets is that any war with Russia will be fought not on the plains of Oklahoma but in Europe. Millions of Europeans will die to help keep America free. NATO is America’s first lie of defence and Donald Trump would do well to remember that.