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From 2 to 4%: Trump turns the screws on NATO allies to up defense spending

From 2 to 4%: Trump turns the screws on NATO allies to up defense spending
Donald Trump is now demanding that NATO nations spend 4% of their GDP on defense, doubling the current spending commitment that many member states are already struggling to meet.

Tweeting from Brussels – where the US president is currently locking horns with his NATO allies during their annual summit – Trump said that Berlin’s reliance on NATO protection while also inking energy deals with Russia was “unacceptable.” The US president added that “all NATO Nations must meet their 2% commitment, and that must ultimately go to 4%!”

The US leader, who self-identifies as a shrewd negotiator, demanded in an earlier tweet that NATO states “must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025.”

The 4 percent figure was initially leaked to the press by US officials on Wednesday, with pundits quickly pointing out that the new benchmark was impractical. Trump reiterated his plan again on Thursday during a press conference.

Even the US, which spends almost twice as much on defense than all other NATO countries combined, falls short of the 4 percent mark. The White House said that US defense spending in 2017 was 3.6 percent of GDP.

Trump has turned NATO’s annual summit – typically a mundane highly-choreographed formality – into a contentious showdown between allies divided on issues ranging from funding to European security. Much of his anger about paltry defense spending among NATO allies has been directed at Germany.

The US even reportedly mulled the possibility of a large-scale withdrawal of American troops stationed in Germany, as punishment for what he says is Berlin’s inadequate financial contribution towards the alliance.

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