Donald Trump: NATO allies should double defence spend goal

Thursday, 12 Jul, 2018

At the summit's opening, U.S. President Donald Trump railed against what he characterized as a "massive gas deal" between Germany and Russian Federation, calling it inappropriate.

In a startling public outburst, Trump told NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that Germany was wrong to support a new $11-billion Baltic Sea pipeline to import Russian gas while being slow to meet targets for contributing to NATO defence spending that was meant to protect Europe from Russia.

"It's very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia where we're supposed to be guarding against Russia and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia", he said. Trump made it clear he's exhausted of America shelling out more money on defense than its allies.

Seemingly intent on hazing German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr. Trump brought up a gas pipeline under construction between Russia and Germany, which could make Western Europe more dependent on Russian energy supplies and which previous administrations have objected to.

"President Trump's brazen insults and denigration of one of America's most steadfast allies, Germany, is an embarrassment", read a statement from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

But Mr. Trump's reported demand that the allies commit to doubling their spending targets, to 4 percent of GDP, made little sense.

Still, Trump is using the 4-percent-argument to ram home his message that the USA gets a bad deal from allies.

President Trump arrives at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit, in Brussels, on July 11, 2018.

The comments come amid wide expectations of a turbulent summit-Trump has long criticized the 29-member alliance, calling it "obsolete", and is extremely critical of countries that are failing to meet the target of 2% of their GDP as defense spending.

"Explain that", Trump said. "My mother's family, for example, was divided by the building of the Wall", she said in remarks upon receiving the US Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.

"President Trump has a very direct language and message on defence spending, but fundamentally we all agree that we need fair burden sharing", Stoltenberg said on his arrival at the summit.

President Trump and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, left, gesture during a heated bilateral breakfast on Wednesday in Brussels.

Of Nato's 29 members, just five meet that target this year: the US, Greece, Estonia, the United Kingdom and Latvia. An investigation into Russia's meddling and its links to the Trump campaign is ongoing.