European Council President Donald Tusk set the scene by warning Mr. Trump that he is losing friends fast.
“Dear America, appreciate your allies. After all, you don’t have that many,” the former Polish prime minister said in a rebuke of Mr. Trump’s criticism of NATO nations who are not meeting their defense spending obligations.
President Trump has already made a major, unprecedented impact in getting NATO allies to spend more on their own defense, U.S. NATO Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison told “Fox News Sunday.”
“I’ve worked for three presidents, all of whom have said the same thing,” Hutchison said. “Now, I think for the first time, we are really seeing the Europeans start going in the same direction. Every ally is now increasing defense spending — we’ve had the largest increase in defense spending snce the Cold War.”
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.
Trump meets the Russian leader in Helsinki as the finale of a trip with earlier stops in Belgium, England and Scotland. After meeting in Brussels with NATO leaders, who he has long pressured to spend more on their own defense, he’ll travel to the United Kingdom.
“He’s making an impact, and the Europeans, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, have said ‘we need to do more, we are going to do more — it’s the right thing to do,'” Hutchison said.
The U.S. NATO ambassador had some harsh words for Russia, saying their invasion of Crimea was “illegal.” In June, President Trump said “we’re going to have to see” whether the U.S. would ultimately recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea. – READ MORE