European Council President Donald Tusk responded forcefully to U.S. President Donald Trump’s claim NATO member nations do not spend enough money to defend themselves.
In a tweet Tusk wrote, “Dear @realDonaldTrump. US doesn’t have and won’t have a better ally than EU. We spend on defense much more than Russia and as much as China. I hope you have no doubt this is an investment in our security, which cannot be said with confidence about Russian & Chinese spending :-)”
During remarks, offered Tuesday in Brussels, Tusk asked Trump to remember the long-standing U.S.-NATO relationship, urging the president to “appreciate your allies, after all you don’t have that many.”
Before he boarded Air Force One for a meeting with NATO leaders in Brussels, Trump dismissed Tusk’s remark about the lack of U.S. allies.
“We do have a lot of allies,” Trump told reporters. “But we cannot be taken advantage of. We’re being taken advantage of by the European Union.”
Trump criticized NATO member nations earlier Tuesday.
Hours before departing Washington for Brussels, Trump said, “The U.S. is spending many times more than any other country in order to protect them. Not fair to the U.S. taxpayer. On top of that we lose $151 Billion on Trade with the European Union. Charge us big Tariffs (& Barriers)!”
Since taking office in 2017, Trump affirmed the U.S. commitment to the defense of NATO allies, but he has continued to criticize NATO’s funding, arguing Washington is shouldering too much of the financial burden.
During a rally last week in Montana, Trump vowed that he would “tell NATO: ‘You’ve got to start paying your bills.’” The president also said that Americans were “the schmucks that are paying for the whole thing.”
NATO says the United States funded about 70 percent of its expenses in 2017.
NATO’s 29 members contribute funds to the organization according to the size of their economies. Member nations committed in 2006 to spend two percent of their gross domestic product on defense by 2024, but NATO estimates that not all members will meet the target.
The upcoming NATO summit on Wednesday and Thursday is the first major summit since the fractious Group of Seven meeting in Canada last month. At the conclusion of that meeting, Trump retracted his endorsement of the group’s final joint statement and blasted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as “very dishonest and weak.”
After meeting with NATO leaders in Brussels, Trump travels to Britain where he will meet with Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth II. Trump meets Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on July 16 the final stop of his European trip.