President Donald Trump recently described his upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin as “the easiest of them all.”
As Pres. Trump prepares to meet with other world leaders in Europe, Trump says his upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin "may be the easiest of them all" https://t.co/d9c0ZvE2Bi pic.twitter.com/AvQEh5z6Pl
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) July 11, 2018
Trump is currently in Europe where he is participating in several important meetings, including the NATO summit in Belgium, talks with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth II, and his first stand-alone summit with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, slated for Monday.
“I have NATO. I have the U.K., which is in somewhat turmoil. And I have Putin. Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all. Who would think,” Trump said this week.
Reporters then asked the President if he sees Putin as a friend or foe, and he responded by describing Putin as a “competitor.”
“I really can’t say right now. As far as I’m concerned, a competitor. A competitor. I think that getting along with Russia, getting along with China is a good thing, getting along with others is a good thing. It’s not a bad thing, I’ve said that many times,” Trump said.
Trump then reminded reporters that he believes the U.S. is being “taken advantage of” by NATO.
“We do have a lot of allies, but we cannot be taken advantage of. We’re being taken advantage of by the European Union,” Trump said, also mentioning that U.S. spending on NATO “helps them a lot more than it helps us.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Trump had tweeted that NATO countries must contribute more funding, and that the U.S. is paying too much.
“NATO countries must pay MORE, the United States must pay LESS. Very Unfair,” Trump said on Twitter.
NATO countries must pay MORE, the United States must pay LESS. Very Unfair!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2018
On Wednesday, he criticized Germany for importing petroleum products from Russia while the U.S. “is paying for Europe’s protection.”
“What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy? 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,” Trump said.
What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy? 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.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 11, 2018
Trump and Putin are expected to discuss a potential deal that could result in some major changes in Syria. Trump is expected to propose a deal that involves keeping Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in power in exchange for Moscow ousting Iran from the region.
Iran has been working with Russia to ensure that the Assad regime survives, but the duo have been working against the efforts of U.S.-backed fighters to eliminate ISIS.