Trump to open trip by meeting with nervous North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders

This week’s summit in Brussels could expose cracks in the Nato alliance

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday acknowledged that his upcoming visit with British Prime Minister Theresa May comes during a time of "turmoil" in her country and said it was up to the British people to decide whether May remains in power.

In a pointed apparent reference to Mr Trump's upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr Tusk noted that European military spending "is an investment in our security, which can not be said with confidence about Russian and Chinese spending".

Trump's relationship with Putin, and his inconsistent stance on Russia's interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, is perhaps one of the most scrutinized aspects of his presidency.

"Dear America, appreciate your allies, after all, you don't have that many", Tusk said.

The president's comments come as May's government has seen top advisers resign over her approach to Brexit, including Boris Johnson as foreign secretary. Furthermore, all member states contribute to NATO's overall budget based on their national income, with the U.S. providing about 22% of the budget.

But a Europe that better defends itself and buys more American gas gives Trump another advantage because it makes Europe more resilient militarily and less dependent on Russian gas.

He told reporters in Washington before leaving that "frankly it helps them a lot more than it helps us" and then later tweeted from Air Force One that he may demand reimbursements from the European member nations.

Compared to a week ago, it is now harder to imagine Trump will use the summit to leverage concessions that will make him appear like a strong negotiator, and much easier to imagine that he will use it to instigate a diplomatic crisis with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Trump is planning to tell the representatives of other allied countries that the United States of America can not serve as a world's "piggy bank" from which defence is paid, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said recently.

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While it's true that the USA provides roughly 22% of NATO's budget, this percentage is based off a carefully crafted formula that includes factors such as the size of a member state's economy.

In an earlier Twitter posting, the president singled out Germany for contributing just 1 per cent, which he said is one-fourth of what the U.S.is spending.

The unpredictable Trump's affinity for the leaders of NATO's 28 other members carries the potential to further blur the lines between who is a friend and who is a foe.

Mr Trump has been accused of not really understanding the funding.

And despite Trump's outward rhetoric, the USA contribution hasn't gone down, suggesting that nervousness around the summit may be overplayed, said Michaels.

European officials have expressed hopes that member states can paper over their differences, but European Union President Donald Tusk delivered a blunt message to the USA leader on Tuesday.

Mr Tusk recalled that the Europeans are spending more than Russian Federation and as much as China on defence.

In this context, Tusk and others seem concerned Putin will take advantage of the fact that Trump is not standing by key United States allies. The EU did strike back with retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods.

"What's new is that this time, it's the president saying it and saying it very bluntly", Bromund said.

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