Trump takes credit for increased defense spending by NATO allies, but says 'it isn't nearly enough'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpEx-FBI lawyer won’t attend interview with House lawmakers: attorney Trump officials to release migrants with ankle monitors North Korea state media release photos of Kim at potato farm after Pompeo visit MORE took credit on Wednesday for increases in the defense budgets of several NATO allies, but doubled down on his claim that the hikes are not “nearly enough.”

“Billions of additional dollars are being spent by NATO countries since my visit last year, at my request, but it isn’t nearly enough. U.S. spends too much. Europe’s borders are BAD!” Trump tweeted. “Pipeline dollars to Russia are not acceptable!”

The tweet came as a sort of summary of grievances the president had aired throughout Wednesday as he attended the annual NATO summit in Brussels. Hours after arriving at the summit, Trump delivered blistering criticisms of key U.S. allies and insisted that Washington was bearing an unfair share of Europe’s defense costs. 

He demanded earlier in the day that NATO members increase their defense spending “immediately” to meet a 10-year goal to spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic products on defense. NATO members agreed in 2014 to work toward the 2 percent target by 2024.

Before that, Trump called on allies to spend at least 4 percent of their GDP on defense. The U.S. spent 3.6 percent last year.

Though few experts have disagreed that European countries should work to increase spending on their own defense, Trump wrongly suggested that NATO allies owe the U.S. money for Europe’s protection. The spending goals agreed upon by member states have to do with their individual defense budgets rather than the alliance as a whole.

“President Trump does not appear to understand that the 2% of GDP spending by the allies is a guideline, not a mandate,” James Stavridis, a retired U.S. Navy admiral who commanded NATO forces, told Time Magazine. “He tends to liken the situation to a need to hound golfers for not paying their dues at the local country club. While it makes sense to pressure the Europeans to hit the 2% goal, we must avoid splitting the alliance over the issue.”

He also claimed on Wednesday that Germany is “captive to Russia” because of a gas pipeline deal between the two countries.

“If you look at it, Germany is a captive of Russia,” Trump said during his meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. “They got rid of their coal plants. They got rid of their nuclear. They’re getting so much of the oil and gas from Russia. I think it’s something that NATO has to look at. I think it’s very inappropriate.”

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