“What good is NATO:” Trump criticizes allies at summit

President Trump took a confrontational stance with America’s allies at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit Wednesday in Belgium, demanding allies double their upcoming commitment to defense spending and slamming Germany for getting gas from Russia.

The criticisms of America’s allies come days before Mr. Trump is slated to meet with Russia’s Vladimir Putin — whom he often says he wants to get along with — in Helsinki, Finland. Mr. Trump on Wednesday said he wants ally nations to spend 4 percent of GDP on defense, double the 2 percent NATO members have committed to paying by 2025. Not even the U.S. pays that much, according to NATO, which says the U.S. paid 3.57 percent of GDP towards defense in 2017. It will spend 3.5 percent of GDP in 2018. Germany spends 1.24 percent of GDP on defense.

“What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy?” Mr. Trump tweeted Wednesday. “Why are there only 5 out of 29 countries that have met their commitment? The U.S. is paying for Europe’s protection, then loses billions on Trade. Must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025.”

The president’s tweet about Germany came after he had what he described as a “great meeting” with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Mr. Trump has long blasted Germany over its defense spending levels and a Russian oil pipeline.

Ahead of the meeting, Mr. Trump claimed the pipeline project has made Germany “controlled” by and “captive to Russia.”

The president’s approach to NATO contrasts greatly with that of his own Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. Pompeo described NATO as the “most successful alliance in history,” praising the commitment of allies.

“.@NATO is the most successful alliance in history,” he tweeted Wednesday. “All #NATO allies have committed to extending this success through increased defense spending, deterrence and defense, and fighting terrorism. Weakness provokes; strength and cohesion protects. This remains our bedrock belief.”

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