According to CNN, President Trump declared Thursday morning that NATO members acquiesced to increase their defense spending. When pressed for details, however, Trump could only say that his fellow member states “agreed to pay more and they agreed to pay it more quickly.” The president avoided discussing specifics, only adding, “everyone has agreed to substantially up their commitment. They’re going to up it at levels that they never thought of before.”
French President Emmanuel Macron, however, claimed that President Trump’s statement was false, explaining, “there was a communiqué released yesterday it was very detailed and I invite you to read it… It shows the measures approved by all the member states. This communiqué is clear, it reaffirms a commitment to 2 percent in 2024. That is all.”
Back in 2014, NATO members originally agreed to increase defense spending to at least 2 percent of their individual GDP by the year 2024. On Wednesday, member states simply reaffirmed this previous pledge.
After voicing his disappointment with his fellow NATO members on Twitter throughout the past few days, Trump was asked if he was threatening to pull out of NATO. While the president did not answer the question directly, he said, “I told people that I’d be very unhappy if they didn’t up their financial commitments substantially. I let them know that I was extremely unhappy with what was happening, and they have now substantially upped their commitment.”
Trump also claimed that he could most likely pull out of NATO without congressional approval, although he noted that such a move would be unnecessary in light of the alliance’s recent cooperation.
While Trump had criticized NATO in the days leading up to the Summit, he announced Thursday, “I believe in NATO, I think NATO is a very important — probably the greatest ever done.”
These comments, however, came just a few hours after the president criticized Germany and other NATO member states on Twitter. At nearly 2 a.m., President Trump tweeted, “Presidents have been trying unsuccessfully for years to get Germany and other rich NATO Nations to pay more toward their protection from Russia. They pay only a fraction of their cost. The U.S. pays tens of Billions of Dollars too much to subsidize Europe, and loses Big on Trade!”
Almost 10 minutes later, Trump continued, “On top of it all, Germany just started paying Russia, the country they want protection from, Billions of Dollars for their Energy needs coming out of a new pipeline from Russia. Not acceptable! All NATO Nations must meet their 2% commitment, and that must ultimately go to 4%!”