Trump says Putin ‘easiest’ of meetings in Europe

The Brief is EURACTIV's daily newsletter

The Brief is EURACTIV's daily newsletter

"Frankly Putin may be the easiest of them all", he said. Of course, deploying North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces in Central Europe and making other preparations for possible conflict are also useful for reassuring allies of the indispensable American commitment, but they essentially serve as a tripwire and are ancillary to United States fealty to Article 5.

Trump will meet the Russian leader in the Finnish capital on July 16 for their first summit amid an ongoing investigation in the United States into possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia.

Trump was less forthcoming about his support for Theresa May, however.

U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison briefs the media ahead of a NATO meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Feb. 13, 2018.

"The president was willing to offer concessions to Kim without getting anything specific or concrete in return", said Jeffrey Rathke, deputy director of the Europe Program at the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and International Studies. The NATO chief said that the Europeans and Canada are projected to spend around US$266 billion more on defence by 2024.

"I would like to address President Trump directly who for a long time now has been criticising Europe nearly daily", the former Polish prime minister told a press conference. "Wow!" And in multiple tweets, he reiterated a familiar theme, complaining that the USA is shouldering an unfair share of defense costs overseas: "NATO countries must pay MORE, the United States must pay LESS", he tweeted.

In Brussels, the USA ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, defended the summit meeting - and unlike Trump criticized a series of Russian actions she called 'malign'.

'When NATO has a Russian Federation council with the Ambassador from Russian Federation, we talk about the concerns that we have about Ukraine, the concerns that we have about Crimea, ' she said.

He added, "NATO countries must pay MORE, the United States must pay LESS".

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European officials say while United States defence spending makes up 70 percent of combined allied governments' military budgets, and just 15 percent of USA expenditure is spent in Europe on NATO-related defence.

Mr. Trump, who has compared the Brexit vote to leave the European Union to his own election, will be making his maiden presidential trip to Britain at a fraught time for May.

"While these countries have been increasing their contributions since I took office, they must do much more", he wrote on Twitter.

"Getting along with Russian Federation, getting along with China and others is a good thing, not a bad thing".

The unpredictable Trump's affinity for the leaders of NATO's 28 other members carries the potential to further blur the lines between who is a friend and who is a foe.

"Not fair to the USA taxpayer", Trump said.

Labour MP Madeleine Moon, a champion of the anti-Brexit campaign group Best for Britain, said Mr Trump's comments were "a wake up call and a look into the future we face if Brexit goes ahead".

Asked about Trump's remark that the UK was "in turmoil", the Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "The Prime Minister looks forward to showing Donald Trump the UK and talking to Donald Trump about the UK and is confident that he will leave with a very positive view". "It's very clear, and he's been very direct about the Europeans needing to do more for their own security".

In Brussels, Merkel will defend her decision to raise defense spending more slowly than Trump's goal and seek to maintain the 35,000 USA troops deployed to Germany, which Trump has threatened to pull back.

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