White House: Trump will confront Putin on 'malign' Kremlin activities

Geraldine Edwards
July 8, 2018

Trump directly addressed German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the rally in the USA state of Montana, saying: "You know, Angela.we are protecting you and it means a lot more to you.because I don't know how much protection we get by protecting you". Trump hasn't ruled out recognizing Russia's seizure of Crimea and suggested the US has too many troops in Germany.

Her comments come just weeks after Trump charged that America is "the piggy bank that (NATO) likes to take from", and "we like to help out, but it helps them, they're in Europe".

Almost seventy years later, none of these concerns still exist.

"If we are talking about the trend, then in the face of it, it can not but worry us", Zakharova said, according to state news agency RIA Novosti. As its boosters like to remind us, after 9/11, the alliance invoked its Article 5 mutual-defense provision on our behalf.

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Christian Lindner, head of the pro-business Free Democrats, told Deutschlandfunk in an interview that he did not trust Trump, and his actions on trade and in the security arena were not in the United States' long term interest. Many NATO states, particularly along the eastern border with Russian Federation, have become increasingly alarmed about recent aggressive moves by Russia's military.

Yet NATO members' defense budgets don't reflect a real sense of danger from Russian Federation or anyone else.

Members of the western military alliance have agreed on a goal of each country devoting 2 percent of GDP to defense within a decade. Canada spends about 1.3 per cent, or $25.5 billion. So it's understandable for the USA to air frustration and ask European nations to do more - especially as some states are yet to meet their standard 2 per cent obligation. These include Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who must contend with Iran and spend almost a combined $100 billion. Last year, the alliance welcomed Montenegro. "They are anxious about a very unpredictable president of the United States".

The European Union (EU) on Thursday stated that it prolonged economic sanctions targeting specific sectors of the Russian economy until January 31, 2019.

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Trump accused Merkel of pursuing oil and gas deals with Russian Federation that provide Moscow with "billions and billions of dollars" while looking to the United States to protect Germany from Russia's military. Still, his success in all three cases rested heavily on surprises that Moscow seems unlikely to be able to repeat against prepared and adequately funded European militaries.

Trump has expressed scorn for the alliance and is expected to upbraid European NATO members for not spending enough on their own defense.

Trump has talked about bringing US troops home from around the globe since he was on the campaign trail espousing a strategy he dubbed "America First" but he has yet to act.

The U.S. president is heading for Europe as his protectionist trade policies and withdrawal from the Paris climate accord have angered some of the leaders he will see at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit on Wednesday and Thursday.

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