President Donald Trump has sent the leaders of America’s NATO allies letters in which he threatens to alter U.S. global military presence if they don’t increase spending on defense, CNN reported citing a New York Times report.
The letters to Germany, Belgium, Norway and Canada were sent last month, according to the Times, before a NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium which is due to take place next week. The existence of the letters was confirmed by a source who refused to comment on their content.
Another diplomatic source familiar with the letters described them as “very tough” and said they requested more defense spending, warning the U.S. was losing patience. The letters all contained sharp language, but the President’s letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel was particularly critical, the Times writes.
Trump’s criticism raises concerns about another confrontation with U.S. allies after a blowup by President Trump at the Group of 7 gathering last month in Quebec. It also increased fears that rather than projecting solidarity in the face of threats from Russia, the meeting will highlight divisions within the alliance.
In the letters, Trump expresses his complaints at what he claims is a failure by NATO allies to share the burden of collective defense and warns that the U.S. will respond if nothing changes.
“As we discussed during your visit in April, there is growing frustration in the United States that some allies have not stepped up as promised,” Trump wrote to Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. “The United States continues to devote more resources to the defense of Europe when the Continent’s economy, including Germany’s, are doing well and security challenges abound. This is no longer sustainable for us.”
A large-scale withdrawal of American forces from Germany is a possible response the Trump administration has already taken into consideration.