A NATO summit is being held in Brussels this coming Thursday and Trump is scheduled to meet Putin for bilateral talks in Helsinki several days later. There is much speculation that Trump is about to initiate some major policy changes that could have serious security consequences for Europe.
Trump is has highlighted the disparity between European and American defence spending(in % GDP terms) and the the consequent imbalance in material commitment to NATO. The agreed target defence spend for NATO members is 2% but only USA and a small minority of other NATO states meet that target. Trump is particularly focused on Germany’s notably poor 1.2% GDP spend. A report last year highlighted the very poor levels of operational equipment within the German armed forces with only 30% of their combat aircraft and 50% of the tanks serviceable. Most other european NATO militaries serviceability levels are not much better. Germany and most of the others are gradually increasing their spend but not fast enough for Trump.
Trump said the following at a campaign rally in Montana recently...
I said, you know, Angela, I can't guarantee it, but we're protecting you, and it means a lot more to you than protecting us because I don't know how much protection we get by protecting you.The Pentagon is currently conducting a study of whether to withdraw some or all of the 35,000 US troops based in Germany and the White House has requested that this be expedited.I'm going to tell NATO, you got to start paying your bills. The United States is not going to take care of everything.
We are the schmucks that are paying for the whole thing.
A recent Telegraph article quotes an unnamed senior diplomatic source...
He further speculates that Mr Trump could use the offer of cutting back the US military presence in Europe to secure a reciprocal assurance from Mr Putin in Helsinki that Russia will use its influence on Tehran to help secure the withdrawal of Iranian troops from Syria but that Mr Putin's ability to achieve Iran's withdrawal from Syria was questionable, and warned against Mr Trump making any offer in exchange for a false promise.We could be in a situation where, between them, Trump and Putin will come up with some dodgy deal that they'll try to portray as a political win to both their countries but will ultimately leave Europe exposed and vulnerable at a crucial moment in our history with so much instability on the continent
Is Trump about to trash the security architecture that has kept the peace and prosperity in Europe(mostly) for the the past 70 years?Russia pretends it can deliver to achieve these short-term aims. They just need the hook to get [Trump] on.
We need to be in a very strong position in the West to negotiate with Russia ... [which would be threatened by] cutting some kind of theoretical deal which sounds purely naive.
Poor State of German Armed Forces Revealed; Only 30% of Fighters and Under 50% of Tanks Serviceable