Make peace great again: Brussels protests against Trump's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation visit

Trump NATO chief

President Trump Says He’ll Tell NATO ‘You Gotta Start Paying Your Bills’ Evan Vucci AP 5 Jul 2018

Trump departs Tuesday on a four-nation tour amid simmering disputes over trade and military spending with fellow Western democracies and speculation about whether he will rebuke or embrace Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On other occasions, the two men discussed Syria, where Putin offered to help Trump achieve his agenda of pulling the U.S. out of the region, before advisers urged the President not to accept such an offer.

Despite Trump's criticism, Ischinger said the transatlantic alliance is in its best shape in years, given rising military spending and efforts to shore up defenses in the Baltic states and Poland after Russia's illegal annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

Kiev has counted on US diplomatic and financial support in its standoff with Moscow since the annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of Russian-backed separatist fighting in eastern Ukraine that has killed more than 10,000 people despite a notional ceasefire. It is no exaggeration to say that what will unfold in Brussels over the coming days could define relations across the Atlantic between Europe and North America for decades to come, and represent just as fateful a historic departure as the end of the Cold War in Europe more than a quarter of a century ago.

Kiev and Washington accuse Russian Federation of sending troops and arms to Ukraine's eastern Donbass region, which Moscow denies. But when asked a second time, the official said Trump is not expected to threaten troop withdrawals in Germany or elsewhere.

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A third of active-duty US military troops overseas - more than 60,000 - are stationed in Europe, including 35,000 in Germany, 12,000 in Italy, 8,500 in the United Kingdom and 3,300 in Spain, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of information from the Defense Manpower Data Center, a statistical arm of the Defense Department. "Within 24 hours, Mr. Trump can change his position by 180 degrees", said Lindner, although he warned against growing anti-American sentiments given that the United States was and would remain Germany's closest ally.

Trump is expected to continue to press North Atlantic Treaty Organisation nations to fulfill their commitments to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense by 2024. "That's the reason why we will continue to have talks in the NATO-Russia Council".

"One and a half per cent is not 2 percent", he told Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

The U.S. commander in chief has a familiar stick to wield: the shortfall in defense spending; or as Trump puts it, allies' refusal to "pay what they owe".

Huntsman's description of Russia's "malign" activities was far sharper than those expressed by Trump, who has indicated his admiration for Putin and said that he takes Putin at his word in denying election meddling.

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