The NATO summit in Brussels ended with Trump's next ultimatum against the European allies. Earlier, the US president demanded from other members of the alliance to raise defense spending to 2% of GDP, but now he has doubled this bar. However, there are many signs that Europe will simply ignore Trump's blackmail.
President of the United States Donald Trump at the NATO summit on Wednesday put an almost ultimatum before the members of the alliance - and sharply revised his previous demands. And it concerns first of all the level of expenses of NATO members for defense (as a percentage of GDP). "President Trump raised the issue not only to 2%, but also set a new goal - 4%," Bulgaria's leader Rumen Radev said after the meeting, quoted by Bloomberg. Not without irritation, Radev added that NATO is not an exchange on which one can "buy security".
Later, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders confirmed Radev's words. However, it is not clear whether this was just an oral request or Trump will seek to formalize it in NATO documents.
Immediately after the meeting, Trump already publicly demanded from all NATO countries to bring their defense spending to 2% of GDP immediately (previously he agreed to wait a little). "The United States is paying to protect Europe, and then lose billions [dollars] in trade. [NATO countries] are obliged to pay 2% of GDP immediately, and not to 2025, "he wrote in" Twitter. "
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez first responded to Trump publicly, reminding that his country was already increasing defense spending. And the Secretary-General of the military bloc Jens Stoltenberg announced: at the summit, national plans were approved to increase the military expenditures of the countries as a whole by 266 billion dollars to 2024. This means a record growth in spending.
Other leaders remained silent. Only the guest of the summit, Swedish Prime Minister Stephen Leven said that his country does not have to pay so much, because the kingdom is just a partner of NATO. "There are no statements that the partner countries should also spend 2%. On the other hand, we are increasing for a number of years - almost 17% to 2020. This growth of more than 20 billion crowns (2 billion euros) ", - quotes the Prime Minister of Tass.
The United States spends almost 4% (to be precise, 3,58%) of its GDP for defense needs, the former head of the international treaty management of the Russian Defense Ministry Lieutenant-General Yevgeny Buzhinsky reminded the newspaper. "The logic is clear: why should the US spend 4%, but, for example, Germany - 1,5 or even 2%? But Germany, after all, 2% is not ready to pay until 2024 year. The maximum they are ready to go to is 1,7%, "Buzhinsky said.
The expert expressed surprise with recent data from the Associated Press agency, from which it follows that the US contributes only 22% of the NATO budget. It is enough to refer to the official NATO report published on 10 July to make sure that this is not so. The alliance's budget for this year is 1,013 trillion dollars. Of these, 706 billion, or 70% - the US contribution. "This means that the alliance is the United States, which is all pulling on itself, plus the 28 of other countries," Buzhinsky said.
The US contribution in any case can not go down to the level of the contribution of Canada, France or the same Germany, the interlocutor is sure, simply because of the difference in GDP itself. "Even if the United States cuts spending to 2%, their GDP is not comparable to that of Germany, Italy or France. The United States was, is and will remain the main payer. They will not disappear anywhere, they will pay, otherwise NATO will simply cease to exist, - emphasizes Buzhinsky. "Without the United States, the North Atlantic alliance is an empty phrase, a fiction."
Therefore, European partners are unlikely to take seriously the appeals of Trump to shoulder the burden of responsibility for the alliance. The US will not go on "impoverishment" and weakening of NATO, they will not act to the detriment of their geopolitical interests. And the same Germans will not go to increase military spending, knowing that the Americans will, willy-nilly, have to cover them up. Consequently, the alignment will remain the same, and Trump's demand is most likely intended for an American audience. Obviously, in the near future Trump will not get allies to increase contributions, not to 4%, but even to 2%.
"Trump's negotiating tactics are well known: first the escalation of demands, then - the conclusion of an agreement with the stunned partner on terms favorable for him," Vassily Kashin, senior researcher at the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies of the Higher School of Economics, told VZGLYAD.
It is clear that 4% of defense spending for Europeans is an absolutely impossible magnitude, the expert notes. "But if Trump eventually obtains from Europe such an increase in defense spending, then he will be able, firstly, to free up significant US military forces from Europe. Secondly, it will receive a significant profit, as a significant part of these additional costs will be launched by Europeans to purchase American weapons, "Kashin points out.
"We do not know what is its ultimate goal and how realistic it is," Kashin notes. He believes: it is quite possible that Trump has a memory of the times of the Cold War. "At that time, for European countries like France, it was perfectly normal for a long time to maintain the level of military spending in 3,5 and even the same 4%." But it is clear that since then times have changed, Europeans have pretty much spent.
"Trump can" shake "as many as you like, but the most important problem of the countries of the European Union does not disappear: a high level of public debt in relation to GDP," Kashin said. From the economic point of view, the reserves for building up all types of spending in the EU are rather limited.
"You can yell at them and demand something indefinitely, but it is unclear how they will perform the required"
- the interlocutor marks. Kashin believes that there are as yet no signs that Trump manages to break down counterparts from the Old World psychologically.
It seems that Trump himself also understands that his claims at the meeting did not lead to a quarrel and the leaders parted quite peaceably. The US president, according to the Reuters news agency, passed on to his colleagues in NATO "a rather positive and constructive signal." As the source said, surrounded by French President Emmanuel Macron, "there is no gap between America and Europe." The United States and its European NATO allies are not at the threshold of a break in friendly relations. The source added that the bilateral meeting between Macron and Trump on the margins of the summit was held in a "friendly and calm atmosphere".
The final declaration of the Summit indicates that the target in 2% should be reached by the year 2024.