On Monday, President Donald Trump said that he hopes to work with China and Russia to scale back defense spending on what he called an “uncontrollable Arms Race.” Business Insider reports that the two countries would begin talks in the future to control spending in a dramatic reversal to his previous statements in which he championed an increase in military spending.
Trump has often said that he believes the United States needs to spend more on military spending and signed a massive defense spending bill in August that authorized $717 billion. He called the bill the “most significant investment in our military and our war fighters in modern history.” He also signed an omnibus spending package that gave the military the largest increase in funding in 15 years, with an increase of $61 billion. At the time, he said he chose not to veto the bill, which he had threatened to do because he had “no choice but to fund our military because we have to have by far the strongest military in the world.”
A few months later in October, Trump made a surprise announcement that he planned to cut government spending by 5 percent across every department but still wanted to give the military an approximate $700 billion.
Now, the president is signaling that he would like to work with President Xi of China and President Putin of Russia to decrease spending, calling the budget that he previously approved “crazy.”
“I am certain that, at some time in the future, President Xi and I, together with President Putin of Russia, will start talking about a meaningful halt to what has become a major and uncontrollable Arms Race. The U.S. spent 716 Billion Dollars this year. Crazy!” the president wrote on Twitter.
He then went on in a second tweet to say that he has a good relationship with China and that he and President Xi are the “only two people” that can improve relations between the two countries.
President Xi and I have a very strong and personal relationship. He and I are the only two people that can bring about massive and very positive change, on trade and far beyond, between our two great Nations. A solution for North Korea is a great thing for China and ALL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2018
The announcement comes just a month after Trump said that he would pull the U.S. out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), a 1987 cold-war era missile treaty that banned the U.S. and Russia from using ground-launched missiles with an “intermediate” range of 300 to 3,400 miles.
The treaty led to dismantling 2,700 missiles between the two countries, but Russia has allegedly violated the agreement. Trump claims that this has put the U.S. at a disadvantage, and wants to allow the U.S. to continue developing intermediate-range missiles.
Trump did not provide any detail on what steps he planned to take or how the decrease in spending would correspond with his pledge to increase military funding.