Ahead of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit, Trump sent letters to allies Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Prime Minister Charles Michel of Belgium blasting them for not spending enough on defense ― an oft-repeated criticism of the alliance. He's also badgering allies to meet a 2 percent target that only five of the 29 members now meet.
The size of a nation's particular GDP is irrelevant, she argued, and warned Europe that following the wasteful habits that Trump has embraced in the US could be a recipe for disaster. Several experts explained that the president was likely referring, albeit incorrectly, to the commitment to devote 2 percent of GDP to defense spending. And it's a sharp contrast to the conciliatory tone Trump has taken with Russian Federation ahead of a meeting with Vladimir Putin next week.
He singled out Germany, which pays 1.2 percent, during a breakfast meeting in Brussels with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and questioned why the country would embark on an energy deal with Russian Federation. Many are using some of those funds for missions in Iraq and Afghanistan that are of critical import to the United States. Previous U.S. presidents have been raising the same issues in Brussels and Berlin for decades, sometimes in blunt words; President Barack Obama also complained about European "free riders". This has been brought up by other presidents but other presidents never did anything about it because I don't think they understood or just didn't want to get involved. "Germany should be committing two percent to defense like they agreed to", Ryan told reporters.
"Many countries are not paying what they should", Trump said.
Germany indeed devotes only about 1.25 percent of its GDP to defense.
"Countries falling short means not that they owe anyone money, but that countries have weaker militaries than we would like", added Stephen Saideman, a professor at Carleton University's Norman Paterson School of International Affairs. "So we're going to have a meeting on that", Trump said, describing the situation as "disproportionate and not fair to the taxpayers of the United States".
"Instead of worrying what other countries are spending on their militaries, the president should worry about the ways his own military wastes funds that could be used to solve problems at home". So I think the secretary-general likes Trump.
"Germany is one of our closest allies", said Smith.
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"You know, we're protecting Germany, we're protecting France", Trump said.
"How can you be together when a country is getting its energy from the country you want protection against?" he shot back.
On "America's Newsroom", former USA ambassador to the United Nations and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) said meeting with Putin is the right move for Trump.
Freeland says she has discussed the issue with Ukraine, which opposes the pipeline because of the leverage it would give Russian Federation over European countries.
"I think we can cope with it", von der Leyen said.
"In recent years we've seen Russian Federation stepping up its arms sales to Iran; shielding the Syrian regime's appalling use of chemical weapons; launching cyber-attacks that have caused huge economic damage; and spreading malicious and fake news stories on an industrial scale", she said.
The increased spending predates Trump.