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Trump Scolds and NATO Relents with Billions More for Defense

07-12-2018
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President Trump is visiting England today after delivering a stern lecture to members of NATO in Europe.

Before leaving the NATO summit, Trump announced they've agreed to increase spending on defense. But not all NATO leaders agree that's what happened.

At the summit with US allies in Brussels Wednesday, the president said it's time the Europeans foot more of the bill for their mutual defense. On Thursday, he had only praise for the alliance after members agreed to increase their defense spending by at least $33 billion.

"NATO is much stronger now than it was two days ago. I can tell you that NATO now is a fine-tuned machine. People are paying money now that they never paid before. They're happy to do it and the United States is being treated much more fairly," President Trump said.

What prompted the NATO decision?

On Wednesday, the president took on members of the 69-year-old NATO alliance, partly by questioning Germany's relationship with Russia.
 
"Germany as far as I'm concerned is captive to Russia because it's getting so much of its energy from Russia. So we're supposed to protect Germany but they're getting their energy from Russia. Explain that. And it can't be explained you know that," Trump said.  

A $12 billion Gazprom pipeline doubles the amount of natural gas flowing from Russia into Western Europe. The United States says that makes NATO more dependent on Russia for energy. That means the alliance may face increased political influence and leverage from Russia as America spends billions of dollars to help defend Europe against it.
 
"How can you be together when a country is getting its energy from the person you want protection against or from the group you want protection against?" asked President Trump.

"We understand, when we stand together also when dealing with Russia we are stronger," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg responded.

But Trump says most NATO members aren't spending their fair share. Only six of 29 members are spending barely two percent of their gross domestic product on defense.

Back in 2014, NATO members agreed to ramp up defense spending to 2 percent of their GPD by 2024, but NATO estimated that only half the countries were on track to meet that benchmark.

Right now, the United States spends 3.6% and the president now wants to see each NATO member ramp up to 4%.

French President Macron denied President Trump's claim that NATO allies have agreed to boost their defense spending beyond two percent of their gross domestic product.

Macron said the summit's communique only "confirms the goal is two percent by 2024. That's all."

Meanwhile, Trump is now in the United Kingdom. Anti-Trump protestors will be out in full force during President Trump's visit there. Some are expected to voice their displeasure with the American president by displaying a Trump baby balloon.
 
One of the highlights of the president's England visit will be his meeting with Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle.
 

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