The NATO Summit happened. Held on July 11-12 in Brussels, Belgium, the summit was characterized by growing transatlantic tensions. It has been a known fact that Trump isn’t the biggest fan of NATO. On the first day of the summit, Trump has insisted that the US is paying too much for NATO and that other NATO members are not paying enough. That’s not all, Trump also accused Germany of being a captive of Russia. He told the NATO secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, that Germany should not have supported the US$11-billion Baltic Sea pipeline that imports Russian Gas as Russia could always cut off crucial energy supplies to Germany in critical situations. However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel (who supports the pipeline by the way, much to the criticism of other EU governments), insisted that Trump overstated Germany’s reliance on Russian energy and that the pipeline was a private venture with no public funds injected into the project.
The NATO summit also addressed NATO’s Afghan training mission, with Stoltenberg expecting leaders to fund Afghan security forces up till 2024. Showing initiative, the UK announced their plan to deploy an additional 440 personnel to NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan. Trump was initially opposed to further prolong America’s longest war along with the increasing fatigue among Americans about their country’s involvement in the conflict. However, his advisers convinced him to authorise an additional deployment of 3000 troops, bringing the total to around 15,000 soldiers in Afghanistan.
Trump’s erratic and outspoken behaviour during the summit is slowly but surely chipping away the confidence of both EU leaders and their European people, with polls showing that European approval of the US has plunged. Furthermore, it doesn’t help that Trump has met Putin in the US-Russia Summit on July 16 at Helsinki, Finland where his actions have given NATO more to worry about. Meeting Putin, Trump mentioned that “both sides” made mistakes and were to blame for the current US-Russia tensions, but declined to mention anything about Russia’s hostile acts against the West such as the annexation of Crimea and Russia’s involvement in the US elections.