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  • Banners displaying the NATO logo are placed at the entrance of new NATO headquarters during the move to the new building, in Brussels, Belgium April 19, 2018.

    Banners displaying the NATO logo are placed at the entrance of new NATO headquarters during the move to the new building, in Brussels, Belgium April 19, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 2 April 2019

NATO celebrates its 70th anniversary as Trump requests budget extensions and traditional alliances crumble. 
 

On Thursday, the 28 foreign ministers of European Union member countries will meet in Washington for what is expected to be a session dominated by concerns about Russia, borders of Eastern Europe threats and Islamist issues. 

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As soon as he came to power, U.S President Donald Trump warned his partners that his country, which is the founder of NATO and holds most of the key positions inside the organization, could pull out.

The U.S. president said he would like to see NATO members pay more than two percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) for defense. Trump told NATO leaders last year to increase defense spending to four percent of GDP. He said the United States pays 4.3 percent of its GDP to NATO.

"Since I came to office it’s a rocket ship up. We’ve picked up over US$140 billion in additional money, and we look like we’re going to have at least another US$100 billion in spending by the nations...by 2020," Trump said.

Those announcements spread panic inside NATO as most of its members don't have any deterrent forces. As a consequence, significant efforts were made and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced a few days ago that seven countries had passed the two percent mark this year. Twenty-one countries are still behind.

Germany, first European economic power, dedicates 1.23 percent of its GDP to the NATO budget. 

"Germany honestly is not paying their fair share," Trump said. "They’re not paying what they should be paying. They’re paying close to one percent."

In a NATO summit in 2018, Trump accused Germany of being captive of Russia and said that Germany is "making Russia richer." 

Recently, Russia is sowing discord in the alliance by selling to NATO member Turkey the S-400 air defense system. The United States has halted delivery of equipment related to its F-35 fighter jets to Turkey over its S-400 plans.

"We have very serious concerns about its stated plans to proceed with the acquisition of the S-400 missile defense system and there will be potential consequences, within sanctions law and the F-35 program if they continue," said a senior State Department official who briefed reporters.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity to preview the meeting of NATO foreign ministers, said the gathering would discuss all elements of the military threat posed by Russia.

Trump recently expressed his willingness to see Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte be part of NATO.

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