President Donald Trump rebuffed a reporter during Thursday morning’s press conference at the NATO summit, declaring NATO “stronger” after Trump’s push for countries to meet their spending commitments before his Monday meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump held an unscheduled press conference shortly before leaving the NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, on Thursday morning.
One reporter asked Trump if he was helping Putin to further disturb things in Ukraine and Georgia by “creating a scene” at NATO.
“Well if you consider putting up tremendously additional funds at a level that nobody’s ever seen before, I don’t think that’s helping Russia,” said Trump. The U.S. President pushed even harder at this summit than he did at the 2017 summit for NATO partners to meet their previously agreed upon two percent spending threshold.
President Trump expressed to NATO partners on Wednesday that he was “extremely unhappy with what was happening,” he told the reporters Thursday.
Trump said that by the end of the conference NATO partners had agreed to make “substantial” spending increases to meet their two percent of GDP spending obligations at a faster pace than previously agreed upon.
“I think that NATO is much stronger than it was two days ago,” he told reporters at the press conference. “I think that NATO was not doing what they were supposed to be doing in a lot of the countries and we were doing much more than we should have been doing. Frankly we were carrying too much of a burden …we had a fantastic meeting at the end, 29 countries. And they are putting up a lot.”
“Germany has increased very substantially their time period, and Germany is coming along,” he added before revisiting his concerns over the gas pipeline Germany has paid Russia great sums for. “I don’t like the pipeline,” said Trump. “And when I talk about NATO, I say, how do you have NATO, and then you have somebody paying the people that you’re protecting against.”
Trump and German Prime Minister Angela Merkel discussed the pipeline contention during their Wednesday pull-aside meeting at the NATO summit. NATO partners discussed the pipeline “at length,” Trump said during Thursday’s press conference.
Trump then suggested, “But maybe we’ll get along with the group that we’re protecting against. I think that’s a real possibility.”
President Trump brought significant attention to the issue of the new gas pipeline from Russia to Germany during his first event at the NATO summit, a breakfast meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. He highlighted the vulnerability that the pipeline brings as Germany and others become dependent on Russia as an energy source. President Trump further pointed to a conflict with Germany sending money to Russia while NATO partners spend money to protect against Russia.
President Trump is scheduled to meet with President Putin Monday, July 16 in Helsinki, Finland.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 12, 2018