U.S. President Donald Trump has proclaimed himself a “stable genius” after presenting an ultimatum to NATO allies, threatening to withdraw U.S. support from the military alliance if European countries didn't double their defense spending.
In a closed-door meeting with NATO leaders, Trump said that if European governments did not spend more on defense, the United States “would have to look to go its own way”, according to one diplomatic source present in the room.
In response to a question as to whether he had threatened to withdraw from the alliance, Trump said that he “thinks” he can pull out of NATO without congressional approval.
Trump later called the meeting a “success.”
"I'm very consistent. I'm a very stable genius," he said.
“I let them know that I was extremely unhappy,” he said to reporters. “Everybody in that room got along and they agreed to pay more and they agreed to pay it more quickly.”
NATO budgets have increased drastically in the last three years, with pledges from European members to spend 2 percent of GDP on the military by 2024 currently in place. Trump said that this goal should be met by January.
Trump reportedly targeted Germany the most during the meeting, and even accused German Chancellor Angela Merkel of being “totally controlled by Russia,” referring to heavy imports of Russian gas.
“The American president demanded what has been discussed for months, that there is a change in the burden sharing. I made clear that we are on this path,” Merkel said.
The cold-war era military alliance has added billions to its budget since 2015, most of which has contributed to the militarization of areas around Russia's border. Apart from slung accusations of Russian influence on various members, Russia was a major factor in the summit's discussions and goals.
The summit's declaration accuses Russia of using “force to attain political goals,” and attempting to “challenge the Alliance” and “undermining Euro-Atlantic security and the rules-based international order.”