US President has undoubtedly challenged America’s allies with his latest moves, including an ongoing trade war. As the NATO summit kicked off, Trump joked that the only one who really likes him in the bloc now is its chief.
“Because of me they’ve [NATO] raised about $40 billion over the last year,” the US leader told journalists standing next to NATO Secretary General. “So I think the Secretary General likes Trump. He may be the only one but that’s OK with me.”
However, the NATO chief did not follow Trump’s playful tone and continued to talk business, saying that the alliance member’s defense spending is the main issue to be discussed. Washington has been stressing that it pays “too much” to the NATO budget, while others fail to follow suit. “This has been going on for decades. It’s disproportionate and not fair to the taxpayers of the United States,” Trump said, adding that he is eager to change the situation.
During the morning meeting with Stoltenberg, Trump also lambasted defense bloc allies and Germany in particular for giving billions of dollars to Russia, a country the members “should be defended against.” He went as far as to call Germany “captive of Russia” because its alleged dependency on Russian gas supplies.
Trump did not miss the opportunity to point the finger at Berlin for not contributing enough to the NATO budget, saying that it pays only around 1 percent of its GDP, while the US spends more than 4.
While Trumps’ words were intended as a joke, he may have a point. Just a day ahead of the gathering, EU Council President Donald Tusk said that Trump should “acknowledge” its allies since “you do not have that many.”
Trump has recently unleashed a trade war against China, which has also hit its major allies, including EU and Canada. Washington is also at odds with another major NATO ally – Turkey – over its purchase of Russian missile defense systems.