Trump arrives in Brussels ahead of potentially contentious North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit
Jul 11 2018
Trump's relationship with Putin, and his inconsistent stance on Russia's interference in the 2016 United States presidential election, is perhaps one of the most scrutinized aspects of his presidency.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel also enters the summit with a limp, after surviving her own leadership crisis about Germany and Europe's response to migration.
Here are some of the key talking points around this year's summit.
Mr Trump has repeatedly undercut the almost 70-year-old alliance, as allies in Europe fret over what further damage can be done.
In a tweet posted before his departure, Mr Trump put European allies on notice that he will be taking a tough stance on their contributions to the military alliance, as well as barriers to United States trade.
"I'm going to tell North Atlantic Treaty Organisation - you got to start paying your bills", he told a rowdy rally in Montana last week.
Ahead of the meeting, European Council President Donald Tusk took Trump to task for "criticising Europe nearly daily".
Prior U.S. administrations have pressed Europe to invest more in its defense, but the matter has typically been handled by other officials in the government, said Ted Bromund, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
Eastern European countries are looking to use the summit to increase the number of troops stationed in their countries as a show of strength towards Russian Federation. Trump has slapped tariffs on billions of dollars worth of steel and aluminium imports from China, the European Union, Canada and others, prompting retaliation against USA products.
Setting up such a force would present an unequivocal challenge deterrence towards what they describe as Russia's increasingly bold and unsafe posture towards Europe.
Only eight of the 29 NATOmembers are expected to reach the target of spending 2 percent or more of their GDP on their armed forces this year, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in February.
"He is going to have a strong and good summit of allies where we talk frankly, but we are together on the big issues and that's a position of strength going to talk with Vladimir Putin", the ambassador said.
Mr Trump, who landed in Belgium during the middle of the football-mad nation's World Cup semi-final match, will later head to London, where Prime Minister Theresa May's government is in turmoil over her plans for exiting the European Union. He has unnerved allies that he could damage the pact while potentially embracing Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom he will meet next week in Finland.
Given what we know about Trump and Putin's warm and fuzzy relationship, a lot of people would think.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov recently said that Vladimir Putin is prepared to repeat that Russian Federation had no role in any "interference".
On top of that, President Trump is said to be reassessing the USA military presence in Germany, where some 35,000 active duty soldiers are now stationed.
"I'd like to hear someone say that's a bad idea". "Dialogue is a sign of strength".