Trump Presses NATO on Military Spending, however Signs Its Criticism of Russia

BRUSSELS — President Trump assailed Germany on Wednesday as well as demanded in which allies double their military spending targets, unleashing a broadside against NATO member countries just days ahead of his meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

however even as Mr. Trump raised questions about his commitment to NATO by lecturing European partners about leaning too heavily on the United States to protect them, he signed on to a summit declaration in which emphasized strength as well as burden-sharing within the alliance as well as harshly criticized Russia for its annexation of Crimea.

The contrast reflected a growing disconnect between Mr. Trump as well as the more traditionally minded foreign-policy advisers in his government when in which comes to the role of the United States on the earth stage. While his aides as well as advisers toil privately to maintain American global leadership, post-World War II institutions as well as strong alliances, the president appears bent on challenging if not upending those conventions to get what he considers a better deal for the United States — even if he does not follow through on all of his threats.

Mr. Trump was primed for confrontation before the gathering was ever called to order here in a large glass-as well as-steel NATO headquarters building in which he has complained looks overly lavish. At a breakfast with Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, Mr. Trump made in which clear in which he had come to Brussels as a virtual pariah among allies, as well as was perfectly happy to be seen in which way.

“I think the secretary general likes Trump,” he said, alluding to allies’ stepping up their military spending in response to his pressure tactics. “He may be the only one, however in which’s O.K. with me.”

Indeed, Mr. Trump spent the next several few hours practically ensuring in which. He laid into Germany for not spending more on its military while becoming increasingly dependent on Russia for its energy needs, calling in which a “captive of Russia.” His criticism was based on Germany’s deal to import natural gas through Russia.

He dismissed as paltry — “a very little step,” the president said — the increases in which NATO member countries have made in their military budgets in part because of his repeated lectures on the issue.

“Frankly, many countries owe us a tremendous amount of money for many years back, where they’re delinquent, as far as I’m concerned, because the United States has had to pay for them,” Mr. Trump said, mischaracterizing how the commitments for NATO military spending work. “This specific has gone on for many presidents, however no some other president brought in which up like I bring in which up.”

“Something has to be done,” Mr. Trump added.

Behind closed doors, Mr. Trump suggested in which NATO allies increase their military budgets not to the 2 percent of their economies in which they have pledged to work toward within the next six years, however to 4 percent — a steep increase in which is actually inconceivable for many member countries. Later, he took to Twitter to demand in which member countries get to 2 percent “IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025.”

Yet unlike at the Group of 7 meeting in Quebec last month, Mr. Trump did not refuse to sign the NATO declaration, although in which was a mark of how much uncertainty he has created among allies in which news of his agreement to the basic statement of principles as well as goals was not a foregone conclusion.

The first day of the summit meeting offered a stark portrait of an American president who is actually more comfortable using sharp elbows, as well as less willing than ever to be restrained by aides as well as advisers.

in which also reflected the degree to which Mr. Trump, looking toward midterm congressional elections in which the Republicans’ control of Congress is actually at stake, believes in which attacking Europe as well as NATO play well with his political base. The populist core of his support is actually fueled in part by anger over what they consider unfair treatment of the United States on matters of trade, immigration as well as international affairs.

“I think he feels in which’s playing well with his base, fueling This specific sense of grievance against allies as well as trading partners, which is actually how he got elected,” Alexander Vershbow, a former NATO deputy secretary general, said of Mr. Trump in an interview.

“The danger,” Mr. Vershbow said, “is actually in which he’s turning at least his base, as well as maybe some other Americans, against NATO as well as against U.S. global leadership by falsely defining in which as a protection racket where we haven’t been paid enough by the protectees, rather than as a mutually beneficial alliance in which has kept peace as well as expanded the frontiers of democracy.”

Mr. Trump’s condemnation of Germany also highlighted his determination to turn the tables on his critics, at a distance if not in person.

By pointing out the close connections between Germany as well as Russia on the Nordstream II gas pipeline, as well as the degree to which they depend on each some other financially, Mr. Trump was borrowing a page through his critics who suggest in which because of Russia’s interference within the 2016 election on his behalf, he is actually beholden to Mr. Putin. in which was a way of implying in which in which is actually Germany’s leader, not he, who is actually too compromised to be able to effectively counter the Russian president.

“The former chancellor of Germany is actually the head of the pipeline company in which’s supplying the gas,” Mr. Trump said, referring to Gerhard Schröder, a former German chancellor as well as friend of Mr. Putin’s who leads the project. “So you tell me, is actually in which appropriate?”

In a face-to-face meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany later within the day, Mr. Trump was more conciliatory, saying to two had a “ very, very not bad relationship.” however earlier, Ms. Merkel had reacted sharply to the president’s talk of Germany being “controlled by Russia” because of its energy needs.

“I myself experienced a part of Germany in which was controlled by the Soviet Union, as well as I am very happy today in which we are united in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany,” she said as she entered the NATO building for the summit. “We decide our own policies as well as make our own decisions.”

One senior White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so as not to describe interactions with the president, said in which Mr. Trump was aware of — as well as had groused about — the criticism in which he is actually too close to Mr. Putin. in which official considers Mr. Trump’s comment about the pipeline — which echoed security concerns voiced by the Obama administration — an effort to hit back at what the president feels is actually a double standard about his relationship with Russia.

Across the Atlantic, Mr. Trump’s performance drew howls of criticism through Democrats as well as an implicit rebuke through the Republican-led Congress, which unanimously passed a resolution supporting NATO without debate.

The resolution, adopted overwhelmingly by the Senate Tuesday night as well as taken up hastily by the House hours after Mr. Trump’s remarks, said in which the United States “must remain committed to our NATO allies within the face of any aggression irrespective of their ability to meet the NATO benchmark of spending.”

John F. Kerry, the former Democratic senator as well as secretary of state under President Barack Obama, issued a blistering statement calling Mr. Trump’s remarks “strange as well as counterproductive.”

“in which was disgraceful, destructive, as well as flies within the face of the actual interests of the United States of America,” Mr. Kerry said.

Jorge Benitez, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, said Mr. Trump’s comment was further evidence in which he is actually acting alone as well as on instinct, as well as was willing to sow unrest in Brussels in which would likely ultimately be a boon to Mr. Putin.

“in which is actually in Russia’s interest, not the U.S. interest, for the Europeans to have any doubt about U.S. commitment to its allies,” Mr. Benitez said of the president’s actions. “In trying to get a better deal, he will severely harm the unity of the alliance.”

Katie Rogers contributed reporting.