One NATO leader says Trump's tough talk has been good for the member states closest to Russia

By On July 13, 2018

One NATO leader says Trump's tough talk has been good for the member states closest to Russia

Multinational soldiers sit on top of military vehicles and equipment to watch culmination training exercise of Saber Strike 18 at the Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Poland on June 15, 2018.
Soldiers sit on military vehicles and equipment to watch the culminating training exercise of Saber Strike 18 at the Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Poland, June 15, 2018.
Michigan Army National Guard

BRUSSELS (AP) â€" Poland's president says the debates over NATO spending that US President Donald Trump ignited are paying off for countries like his on the alliance's eastern flank because they have led to more defense spending by allies.

Preside nt Andrzej Duda played down the severity of divisions between Trump and other NATO members at a two-day summit in Brussels, saying the important thing for Poland is that new commitments have been made to secure the region that lies close to Russia.

At the contentious two-day summit that wrapped up Thursday, Trump intensified accusations that other nations in the 29-member alliance were not paying their fair share on defense.

When asked during a news conference if he was still threatening to pull out of NATO and whether he can do so without Congress, Trump said: "I think I probably can but that's unnecessary." He said he was "extremely unhappy" with the situation, but that alliance members have upped their commitments to defense spending in response to his complaints.

NATO leaders at the opening ceremony for the 2018 NATO Summit at NATO headquarters on July 11, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The Polish leader expressed surprise that other leaders would leak details of the confidential talks. During brief remarks to reporters, he mostly praised Trump's approach.

And he insisted â€" despite an impression to the contrary â€" that the rancorous discussions "undoubtedly confirm the North Atlantic Alliance's unity â€" there is no question about it."

Poland, which was under Moscow-backed communist rule for decades during the Cold War, is today one of the most pro-US countries in Europe. Poles remain grateful to US President Ronald Reagan's role in defeating communism and see the United States as its only real power that could protect it from falling under Moscow's control again.

Officials at the NATO Summit in Warsaw, Poland July 8, 2016.
Reuter s/Kacper Pempel

In May, Poland said it was willing to pay up to $2 billion to support a permanent US troop presence on its soil. (The proposal was crafted by Poland's defense ministry, which didn't consult with the president or the foreign ministry.)

Since 2015, the country has also had a populist right-wing government that supports many of Trump's positions, including his opposition to migration.

But Warsaw has at times been nervous about Trump's fondness for Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom Trump will meet Monday in Helsinki, Finland.

When asked if he was worried that the Putin-Trump meeting could have negative consequences for Poland, Duda said he expected Trump to continue the U.S. stance of supporting Poland.

"It would really be shocking if it turned out that he in any way would withdraw from the strategy of securing this part of the world. And it would be sh ocking if he made any concessions to Vladimir Putin, especially given what Russia is doing in Ukraine. It is an occupier, an aggressor," Duda said.

Source: Google News Poland | Netizen 24 Poland

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