US President Donald Trump on Monday criticized North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member states' military spending and said it benefits Europe more than America, setting the stage for a potentially-acrimonious summit with leaders of the alliance.
"NATO countries must pay MORE, the United States must pay LESS". Mr. Trump tweeted early Monday. "Europeans spend on defense many times more than Russia and as much as China and I think you can have no doubt, Mr. President, that this is an investment in common American and European defense and security which cannot be said with confidence about Russian or Chinese spending", Tusk said.
"America, appreciate your allies - after all, you don't have that many".
In the past few weeks, Trump has sent sharply worded letters to the leaders of several European countries, including Germany, Italy and Norway, as well as to Canada, urging increased defense spending and warning that the USA was losing patience. "Who would think?" Trump said.
Tusk, who chairs European Union leader summits, is a former Polish prime minister from the centre-right Civic Platform party, which takes a staunch pro-US line in foreign policy. U.S. doesn't have and won't have a better ally than EU. In March he criticised the United States president's claim that "trade wars are good and easy to win", countering that "they are bad and easy to lose".
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Trump, whose 2016 election campaign is being probed for possible collusion with Russian Federation, has said repeatedly he wants to have a good relationship with Washington's former Cold War foe, despite tensions between Russian Federation and the West over Ukraine, Syria and alleged election meddling around the world.
"Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of all", he said as he boarded Marine One on his way to Europe. "It's very clear, and he's been very direct about the Europeans needing to do more for their own security".
All together, the 29 alliance members spent an estimated $917 billion on defense in 2017, and the US portion was about $618 billion.
"The president was willing to offer concessions to Kim without getting anything specific or concrete in return", said Jeffrey Rathke, deputy director of the Europe Program at the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and International Studies. Only Trump's ratifying this USA commitment will get the Russian leader's full attention and reduce any belief Putin may have that he can manipulate Trump to betray Western interests.
The NATO summit is likely to be dominated by Trump's insistence that member nations step up and pay more for their joint defence.