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Trump says NATO countries to increase military spending

Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization | July 11, 2018 (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
July 12, 2018

NATO member nations agreed this week to increase their spending, this after President Donald Trump put the pressure on them to do so.

Trump criticized other countries for not living up to the financial commitments of NATO, and he reportedly said during a closed-door meeting that he would “do his own thing” if countries did not shape up.

“I told people that I’d be very unhappy if they did not up their commitments very substantially,” Trump told reporters after the meeting, the Washington Post reported. “Everyone’s agreed to substantially up their commitment. They are going to up it at levels never thought of before.”

“Ultimately, that [countries’ financial commitments] will be going up quite a bit higher than that,” Trump later said at the news conference.

Trump reportedly demanded countries double their 2-percent commitments of gross domestic product (GDP) to 4 percent.

In 2014, NATO member nations promised to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense by 2024. At this point, only eight of the 29 countries will reach that goal in 2018. NATO founding members were Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States.

When Trump met with leaders of member nations behind closed doors, he went in well-prepared with numbers and facts, according to sources with knowledge of the meetings.

If member nations did not meet their defense spending goal by January, the U.S. would “go it alone” and Trump would “do his own thing,” according to officials.

Following the report, it was clarified by officials that they did not feel Trump was ever threatening to pull out of NATO.

French President Emmanuel Macron immediately disputed the claim that Trump demanded an increase, saying that countries would meet their expected 2-percent commitment of GDP by the deadline.

Following the NATO summit in Brussels this week, President Trump sent out a tweet on Wednesday, again calling out Germany for supporting an $11 billion Russian pipeline project and for not contributing as much as it should be to NATO.

His tweet echoed the sentiment he expressed during the summit, and he again outed Germany for not paying as much as the United States toward NATO, as well as other countries.

“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 tweeted.

“Germany is totally controlled by Russia” when it comes to gas and energy, President Trump said Wednesday morning, pointing out how the country will get “60 to 70 percent” of its energy from Russia, as well as a new pipeline as part of an upcoming project, while the United States is guarding Germany and other countries against Russia.

Trump was referring to an $11 billion Baltic Sea gas pipeline deal with Russia that Germany supports.

While Berlin has given its political support for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project that will bring Russian gas across the Baltic Sea, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has insisted the project is commercial in nature and will not be funded by German taxpayers.

The United States protects Germany and other countries against Russia, Trump pointed out, yet the country has made a “massive oil and gas deal” with Russia.

“I think that’s very inappropriate,” the President said.

“When Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia,” he continued. “We’re supposed to be guarding against Russia, and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia. We’re protecting Germany, we’re protecting France, we’re protecting all of these countries. And then numerous of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russia where they’re paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russia.”

“So we’re supposed to protect you against Russia and you pay billions of dollars to Russia, and I think that’s very inappropriate,” Trump said.

Ultimately, Germany will be about 70-percent controlled by Russia as far as gas goes, Trump said.

“Germany will have almost 70 percent of their country controlled by Russia with natural gas. You tell me, is that appropriate,” he said. “Germany is totally controlled by Russia, cause they are getting 60 to 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline.”

“It should have never been allowed to happen. Germany is totally controlled by Russia,” he continued. “It’s a very bad thing for NATO. And I don’t think it should have happened.”

“I think it’s very unfair to our country, and very unfair to our taxpayers,” Trump added.

Trump will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday in Helsinki.