The NATO summit kicked off in Brussels. Judging by the mood of the parties and the first reports from Belgium, it will not be a traditional Allied forum, but tough negotiations that are cautiously related to each other. At the same time, the Russian question suddenly became one of the reasons for disagreements between Americans and Europeans. Whose will take?
At the moment, the US and the European Union are in a state of "cold trade war". And it can at any time turn into a hot one, in other words, the introduction of new duties and other attempts on the sacred cow of the Western world - free trade.
Donald Trump links the continuation of military assistance to Europe with changes in the economic policies of Europeans. This, first, the increase in defense spending, and secondly, the curtailment of energy cooperation with Russia. In fact, Trump puts Germany as the largest EU country an ultimatum: either an increase in contributions to NATO, or the stop of the Nord Stream - 2.
"Germany pays billions of dollars a year in Russia, and we are defending this country from Russia. They are building a gas pipeline, the purpose of which is to pay billions of dollars to the treasury of Russia. I think this is completely unacceptable, "the American president said during breakfast with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. - Germany pays a little more than 1% to NATO, whereas we pay a lot of money, and this continues for many years, and none of the previous presidents did anything about it. I believe that this is very unfair for our country and unfair for taxpayers, since Germany is a rich country. "
The American president also recalled that former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder became a member of the board of Gazprom: "Germany should not have been allowed this. Germany is completely controlled by Russia, and tell me, is this acceptable? "
Stoltenberg diplomatically replied that "among the allies there are disagreements over the" Northern Stream - 2 ", but" it's not NATO to decide, it's a national decision ". At the same time, he reminded Trump that even during the Cold War, NATO countries traded with Russia (in fact - with the USSR, but for the West it does not matter).
After this tough statement, Trump's main line of attack on "allies" became clear (the last word requires quotation marks, because it is only possible formally to call the current NATO forum an Allied gathering).
The position of the American president as a whole is clear. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the military threat to the West European countries completely disappeared. In the modern world, there is no country that would or could have carried out such an attack. However, instead of dissolving NATO and building a joint international security system with Russia, the United States and its allies decided to finish off the giants that had been overwhelmed by internal contradictions. In the 1990-ies, Russia produced the impression of a country that completely lost the idea of its national interests. At the same time, the former "Eastern bloc" almost completely joined NATO, and once Gorbachev's promises of non-expansion were declared a fiction.
After Russia again declared itself as a powerful player in the international arena, NATO was relieved to return to the paradigm of the "Russian threat". Although none of the Western politicians and analysts have been able to come up with any worthy argument about the benefits to Russia of attacking even paranoidly fearful of this Baltic country, let alone Germany or Britain. All the assumptions and fears raised did not answer the one, the most important question: what advantages will Moscow get in the event of unleashing a war in Europe?
Trump, being a businessman, is not very well versed in geopolitics, but perfectly - in matters of profit. He, like many sensible people, understands that Russia is not going to attack anyone, because it is at least unprofitable. So what's the point of spending really serious money from the deficit budget of the US to protect Europe from Russia, if in reality no one threatens anyone?
If Europe wants to fear and pay for its fears - this is please, the US will not be able to debunk these fears. The American military-industrial complex will gladly help arm European and any other armies with the latest technology. But those who are afraid, and not the US, who have nothing to fear with their nuclear arsenal and military bases around the world, should pay for it.
Actually, this is the most convex form and tries to convey to the European "allies" Trump. Making choices in favor of cheap Russian natural gas, and not expensive American LNG, they save. Refusing to increase their military budgets and demanding that the United States "protect against Russia," they also save. And only America, like that girl from an anecdote, is compelled to manage both in the port, and in the airport, and in the parking lot. And constantly for all to pay.
The further development of the situation depends on whether Europe makes a choice in favor of benefit or in favor of ideology. Judging by the editorials of the European media and the statements of European politicians, not everyone has realized that American missiles are now being bundled with American liquefied gas.
Head of the European Council Donald Tusk addressed the US president with the following statement: "Dear President Trump. America does not and will never have better allies than Europe. Dear America, appreciate your allies, after all, you do not have many of them. "
The speed with which the US in the minds of European officials went from "the leader of the entire free world" to a country with a few allies, of course, can not fail to amaze.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the president of the Federal Republic of Germany (on the other hand, says that the new views in the US are not limited to "the philosophy of US foreign trade policy, which includes duties, protectionism and trade restrictions," but also appear in " changed ideas about security, "writes Deutsche Welle. He also called for reconciliation with Russia.
At the same time, according to the German edition of Suddeutsche Zeitung, there are a lot of anti-Russian statements in the existing draft declaration of the NATO summit. "We categorically condemn the illegal and illegal annexation of the Crimea by Russia, which we do not recognize now and do not recognize in the future," the document says. Moscow is also accused of challenging Euro-Atlantic security and stability through "hybrid actions, including attempts to influence electoral processes." In addition, "widespread misinformation campaigns and insidious cyberactivity" attributed to Russia and an attack in the British Salisbury are mentioned, during which Russia "weakened stability and security, increased unpredictability and changed the security situation."
But the alliance remains "open for a regular, focused and meaningful dialogue." "We continue to believe that a partnership between NATO and Russia, based on respect for international law and international obligations, would be of strategic importance," the text emphasizes. But while Russia does not change its behavior, there will not be a return to normal cooperation, the authors of the statement proposed for signing sum up.
Judging by the way the summit begins, the chances that a document agreed upon by all parties will appear at the end of this meeting seem ambiguous. Angela Merkel has already answered Trump that Germany is pursuing an independent policy. She will give more detailed explanations in the course of her personal meeting, which is not covered in the media.
At the same time, according to sociologists, 42% of German citizens called for the withdrawal of US troops from the country, for the US contingent to stay, 37% voted, and 21% of the respondents abstained.
Thus, even if NATO succeeds at the end of the summit in accepting at least some compromise joint statement, it will be impossible to disguise the tectonic shifts in international politics. The US does not want to pay for the invented fears of Europeans, and Europeans are not ready to overpay for gas and are ready to take care of their own security in their own hands.
Vladimir Putin will certainly have something to talk about with Donald Trump next Monday.