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Russian experts comment on Trump’s statements at NATO summit

July 12, 2018, 18:07 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Experts say US President Donald Trump’s call on NATO countries to double their military spending target to four percent of GDP are aimed, first and foremost, at supporting the US economy

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MOSCOW, July 12. /TASS/. US President Donald Trump’s call on NATO countries to double their military spending target to four percent of GDP are aimed, first and foremost, at supporting the US economy, Russian experts told TASS on Thursday. However, in their view, NATO members are unlikely to take practical steps to that end.

Psychological pressure

While taking part in the 29th NATO summit in Brussels, Trump called on allies to immediately double their military spending target to four percent of GDP, though the initial plan was to reach the two percent level by 2025.

Increasing the US economy’s competitive capabilities was a key theme of Trump’s election campaign. According to Chief Editor of Russia’s Natsionalnaya Oborona (or National Defense) magazine Igor Korotchenko, this is the objective behind all his statements. "Demanding that the EU increase its defense spending and provide preferences to US defense companies and the US economy in general - this is the core of his politics," Korotchenko said.

The expert believes that the US president’s demand is some kind of psychological pressure on the leaders of NATO countries. "Trump is an impetuous person. As a politician, he is pushy and high-handed, his political mentality reflects his business-like nature and his business-like approach to global processes, including the defense policy," Korotchenko noted.

Trump seeks to make Germany purchase US LNG instead of cheaper Russian gas, which would make the German economy less stable and competitive. "I think that German leaders understand this and Trump’s blackmail will not help him achieve the desired result. Germany will not abandon the Nord Stream 2 [gas pipeline project]," the expert concluded.

Chestnuts out of the fire

President of Russia’s Academy of Geopolitical Problems Konstantin Sivkov also believes that Trump is trying to lighten the burden on the US economy.

"Trump’s demands are too high but they are not groundless," he said. "The matter is that since the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO countries have been spending one percent of GDP on defense so the military capabilities of a number of NATO members have significantly declined. Under these conditions, Trump seeks to shift the defense responsibility to other alliance members and lighten the burden on the US economy," Sivkov said.

In his view, the United States is reluctant to use its own resources to implement its political goals but wants to use other countries, including its allies. "NATO countries need to have enough resources so that the US can involve them into its reckless schemes. This is what is behind Trump’s demands," Sivkov said.

As far as Russia is concerned, the United States’ aspirations are dangerous because while trying to use the European countries to pull its chestnuts out of the fire, Washington may raise tensions and put its allies under fire in order to escape greater damage. "In this regard, Russia can face some issues in the near future but in the long run, the United States’ influence on the European Union will decline," Sivkov said. "Moreover, the Europeans will not significantly increase their defense spending because that would mean political death for the current leaders of Europe," he added.

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