DONALD Trump has threatened the US will “go it alone” if the wealthiest Nato members don’t start spending 2 percent of their GDP on defence, according to a report.
It comes as members hold an emergency meeting this morning amid the furious spending row with US President Donald Trump.
Reuters Melania Trump attempts to smooth over tensions with German Chancellor Angela Merkel after her husband’s blistering attack
The Times’ defence editor Deborah Haynes today tweeted quotes from a source who said: “The US President continued that if the wealthiest economies are not paying 2 percent by January ‘we are going to do our own thing’.”
However, there were reports conflicting with this – two Nato sources who spoke to Reuters said he did NOT threaten to quit.
The US President, who arrived half an hour late to meet alliance leaders this morning, yesterday accused Germany of being a “captive of Russia” in the tense meetings.
He then labelled members of the alliance “delinquent” for failing to spend 2 percent of their GDPs on defence.
One diplomat told CNN: “It’s like the world has gone crazy this morning. Trump’s performance was beyond belief.”
What we know so far:
Donald Trump is demanding “free-riding” Nato members increase their payments towards the defence alliance He has had a spectacular fall-out with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and reignited his fury in a scathing Twitter tirade on Wednesday The US President arrived in Brussels for the two-day Nato summit on Monday before he jets to Britain for his first state visit today Following his trip to the UK he will travel to Helsinki, Finland, for his first “one-on-one” with Russia’s Vladimir Putin Allies fear he may offer concessions to Putin – such as Crimea or the loosening of sanctions – if his Nato demands are not met He launched a blistering attack on Germany for spending millions on Russian oil and gas and very little on defence Angela Merkel responded by referencing her youth in Soviet-controlled East Germany and denied Russia could control Berlin Trump tweeted about his determination to get trade tariffs slashed for US farmers’ produce, in particular, soy beans Yesterday he demanded all countries should start paying 4 percent of their GDP on defence, an increase on the current 2 percent obligation
Reuters Melania speaks at length with Angela Merkel during the Nato cocktail party on Wednesday evening
Another yesterday said Trump’s sudden and targeted attack on Germany and Angela Merkel was “very confusing”.
They added: “The attacks before, and now this tremendous stuff today. It doesn’t make any sense. We’re still in the process of analysing it.”
Despite this, Trump has continued his attacks on Nato members – and in particular Germany – over their defence spending.
He tweeted today: “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!
“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%!”
Reuters The First Lady was seen giving Mrs Merkel a kiss on the cheek during the party
A third European diplomat told CNN that Trump’s attacks on Merkel in the past have resonated with his US voter base.
“Targeting Merkel, especially her immigration strategy in the past, is exactly what he wants to attack. She has allowed in a lot of immigrants. He’s found that these attacks work, and can produce a great deal of damage.
“Second, the President is under attack himself for the way he treats Putin and the way he may treat Putin in Helsinki.”
His attacks continued this morning after First Lady Melania attempted to smooth over tensions at a NATO summit party last night.
The pair attended a glitzy cocktail party with his wife Melania who was seen kissing Mrs Merkel on the cheek.
Reuters Donald Trump had launched a blistering attack on Germany for its ties to Russia
Trump and Merkel’s pair’s spectacular falling out yesterday occurred when he accused Germany of being “totally controlled by Russia” over a natural gas pipeline venture with Moscow.
During his rant, aide John Kelly could be seen squirming in his chair – a reaction the White House later bizarrely blamed on his displeasure with the food options.
And in a scathing Twitter tirade last night, he continued his attack saying: “What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy?
“Why are there only 5 out of 29 countries that have met their commitment?
“The U.S. is paying for Europe’s protection, then loses billions on Trade. Must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025.”
He later tweeted: “Billions of additional dollars are being spent by NATO countries since my visit last year, at my request, but it isn’t nearly enough.
AP:Associated Press French first lady Brigitte Macron and US first lady Melania Trump talk ahead of NATO spouses dinner
Reuters From left: Melania Trump; Turkey’s first lady Emine Erdogan; Estonian Prime Minister’s spouse Karin Ratas; Bulgarian President Rumen Radev’s partner Desislava Radeva; and Jens Stoltenberg’s spouse Ingrid Schulerud
AP:Associated Press The spouses of the Nato leaders gathered for a picture ahead of a dinner together on Wednesday night
AP:Associated Press Donald Trump with U.S. first lady Melania Trump walk with French President Emmanuel Macron and French first lady Brigitte Macron
“US spends too much. Europe’s borders are BAD! Pipeline dollars to Russia are not acceptable!”
However, as the stormy meeting descended into farce, Mrs Merkel hit back to suggest Trump didn’t know what he was talking about.
The Chancellor, who grew up behind the Iron Curtain, said: “I’ve experienced myself a part of Germany controlled by the Soviet Union and I’m very happy today that we are united in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany and can thus say that we can make our own decisions”.
French President Emmanuel Macron – who is considered to be the one European leader Trump personally likes – backed Mrs Merkel by also denouncing Trump’s claim.
EPA Trump has been seated next to May for the summit’s afternoon session
AFP or licensors Despite this he appeared cheery as he posed for pictures
AP:Associated Press Nato leaders watch a flyover during the official ceremony
AP:Associated Press Trump looks out at gathered as leaders, including Merkel, chat to his right
Reuters Trump and May speak during the Nato summit which is fraught with tension
WHAT IS NATO?
NATO, or the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, was formed after the end of the Second World War when a group of nations joined forces against the growing threat of the Soviet Union.
Established in 1949, it originally comprised 12 members but this has now expanded to 28 different states, including several bordering Russia.
Considered to be the largest and most powerful military alliance in history, it is known for the so-called Article 5 – in which members pledge to come to the aid of any member state under attack.
So it stands that if a member state is attacked the attacker must go to war with all members, including the US.
The organisation, which is credited with the escalation of the Cold War, carries out its own military missions using the troops of member states.
This image shows Nato members alongside traditional foe Russia and its allies
Getty Images NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg chairs a NATO defence ministers’ meeting
WHAT IS BEING DISCUSSED?
Few Nato summits have captured the attention quite like this week’s due to US President Donald Trump’s posturing over defence spending.
Alliance leaders are discussing the growing threat of Russia after Putin annexed the Crimea and backed a separatist war in eastern Ukraine in 2014.
In recent years Putin has also stepped up his war of disinformation against the West, while his Novichok poisonings in Britain also plunged diplomatic relations to a new low.
However, the headlines are being dominated by Trump’s interactions – and clashes – with fellow world leaders and in particular Angela Merkel.
Disagreement centres around members’ defence spending, with the Nato guidelines stipulating members must pay 2 percent of their GDP towards defence.
EPA This photo, taken at the G7 summit, shows Trump appearing defensive as his allies gang up on him