By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) – President Donald Trump ripped his NATO counterparts Monday as the alliance prepares for what could be a tension-riddled summit later this week.
Trump rapped the alliance for what he said is an over-reliance on American defense spending.
"The United States is spending far more on NATO than any other Country. This is not fair, nor is it acceptable. While these countries have been increasing their contributions since I took office, they must do much more," Trump wrote on Twitter, claiming the alliance benefits Europe "far more" than the U.S.
"By some accounts, the U.S. is paying for 90% of NATO, with many countries nowhere close to their 2% commitment," Trump claimed. What Trump is referring to by saying the U.S. pays for 90 percent of NATO is unclear.
NATO members are supposed to spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defense, but the majority of members do not. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he expects the number of countries that are meeting the guideline to rise to eight this year, and NATO expects 15 of its 29 members to cross the benchmark by 2024.
Trump has long taken issue with the imbalance, and has frequently chided allies both in public and private about the discrepancy.
He will depart Washington on Tuesday for a four-nation trip that will take him to Brussels where NATO leaders will gather July 11-12, and will then meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland July 16.
Trump has long-sought the sit-down with Putin, and it is not clear what type of approach he will take with the Russian leader who is seeking an end to sanctions the U.S. imposed on Moscow following its 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula, and support for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Putin is also likely to raise the issue of U.S. military exercises in Europe.
Next week's meeting between Trump and Putin will be the third since the American president assumed office in 2017.