GOPer Suggests Trump Didn't Actually Mean What He Said About Russia

GOPer Suggests Trump Didn't Actually Mean What He Said About Russia

"I think it's very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia when you're supposed to be guarding against Russia and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia", Trump told NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

It was just the latest in Trump's demands and insults that critics fear will undermine a decades-old alliance launched to counter-balance Soviet aggression after World War II.

Even as he declared that the USA commitment to the trans-Atlantic alliance "remains very strong" before his summit next week with President Vladimir Putin of Russian Federation, he continued to assail close partners and further strain diplomatic relations.

Days after their meeting in Brussels, Trump plans to sit down with Putin for their first one-on-one summit, a meeting in Helsinki, that could be more cordial, further straining the long-standing military alliance.

Carefully-choreographed sessions and the leaders' dinner in a Brussels museum on Wednesday night are unlikely to mollify Trump, NATO diplomats say, as they found out to their dismay in May a year ago at a special dinner to welcome the president.

But unlike his recent tweets in which he berated allies, Trump struck a more affable tone in person before boarding his flight, remarking that "we will work it out and all countries will be happy".

Stoltenberg praised Trump for spurring the allies into action. He's also dismissed the USA intelligence community's assessment that Russian Federation tried to undermine Western democracy by meddling in the 2016 US presidential election to help him win.

According to a person briefed on the meeting, Trump told other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders that if their countries did not meet the 2 percent standard by January, the United States "would go it alone", a comment that some interpreted as a threat to withdraw from the alliance. "Those of the leaders that have negotiated with Putin or have experience with him are going to have a hard sell to make about why our defense spending commitments in Europe are important and why the United States should continue to have troops in Poland on a rotational basis, for example". And then numerous of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russian Federation where they're paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russian Federation.

"I'm going to tell NATO, 'You got to start paying your bills, '" Trump said at a rally last week in Montana.

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And he connected the issue to his protectionist trade policies, noting that the European Union has a trade surplus with the United States.

Trump has linked defense and trade throughout his presidency, using national security powers to impose tariffs against close allies like Canada and trade deficits as an argument for cutting US defense aid to Europe.

"It's one of the signs that the wind is blowing in our sails, thanks in large part to Trump", he said. "And dear Europe, spend more on your defense because everybody expects an ally that is well-prepared and equipped".

But with tensions in the alliance smouldering over Trump's trade tariffs on European steel, his earlier comments fuelled concerns about the US role in keeping the peace that has reigned since World War Two.

Experts fear the trip could produce a repeat of the dynamics from Trump's last trip overseas, when he admonished Group of Seven allied nations at a summit in Canada before heading to Singapore, where he showered praise on one of America's longest-standing adversaries, North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

"I think that getting along with Russian Federation, getting along with China, getting along with others is a good thing, not a bad thing", he added.

"Dear America, appreciate your allies".

But Trump is known for his spontaneous and sometimes erratic style of doing diplomacy, and Kiev fears that behind closed doors he may prove susceptible to Putin's efforts to win US acceptance of Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

"I have great confidence they'll be spending more", he said.

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