Posts tagged with "NATO"

Trump says he’d disregard NATO treaty, urge Russian attacks on U.S. allies

February 13, 2024

Former president Donald Trump ramped up his attacks on NATO on Saturday, February 10—claiming he suggested to a foreign leader that he would encourage Russia to do “whatever the hell they want” to member countries that he views as not spending enough on their own defense, reports The Washington Post.

“One of the presidents of a big country stood up and said, ‘Well, sir, if we don’t pay and we’re attacked by Russia, will you protect us?,’” Trump said during a rally at Coastal Carolina University. “I said, ‘You didn’t pay. You’re delinquent.’ He said, ‘Yes, let’s say that happened.’ No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want.”

Trump’s remarks come as the GOP is debating whether to provide additional foreign aid to Ukraine, which is fighting a war with Russia after being invaded by Moscow in 2022. The Senate is considering legislation that would give $60 billion to Ukraine. House Republicans, however, have echoed Trump’s skepticism about doing so.

Trump has long been a fierce critic of U.S. participation in the alliance—frequently hammering European countries on their share of defense spending—and he appeared to be referring to indirect funding as part of participation in the alliance.

Since 2006, each NATO member has had a guideline of spending at least 2% of its gross domestic product on defense spending by 2024.

NATO countries were already increasing their funding substantially before Trump’s presidency, following Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. More than half had met or come close to that goal, as of 2023, and many member countries have increased their spending in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Under Article 5, if a NATO ally is attacked, other member countries of NATO consider it “an armed attack against all members and will take the actions it deems necessary to assist the Ally attacked.” Since NATO’s founding in 1949, the clause has been invoked only once: On Sept. 12, 2001, after the terrorist attacks in the United States the day before.

Several NATO partnership experts described Trump’s understanding of the financial obligations of NATO member countries as inaccurate and argued that his opposition to collective security as a member nation is misplaced.

“NATO isn’t a pay-to-play setup, as Trump seems to think. It’s an alliance that is first and foremost about U.S. national security interests to prevent another world war originating in Europe,” said Alina Polyakova, president and CEO of the Center for European Policy Analysis, in an email to the Post.

She added, “The U.S. investment in NATO is worth every dollar—the only time that the Article 5 collective defense clause was initiated was in response to 9/11. Our allies came to our aid then, and it would be shameful and misguided to not do the same.”

In May 2017, Trump initially did not affirm the United States’ commitment to Article 5, but then reversed course two weeks later. Trump broadly has expressed skepticism about NATO. His campaign website states: “We have to finish the process we began under my Administration of fundamentally reevaluating NATO’s purpose and NATO’s mission.”

The New York Times reported in 2019 that Trump discussed withdrawing from NATO. While he was in office, Trump repeatedly tried to claim credit for making NATO countries pay more, claiming that “hundreds of billions” of dollars came to NATO as a result of his complaints about other countries as “delinquent” members.

Daniel Fried, a former assistant secretary of state for European Affairs and fellow at the Atlantic Council, said of Trump: “He seems to prefer a world based on pure power where other countries, where the United States intimidates or threatens other countries. The trouble with that is when we need them, those other countries won’t be there.”

“Encouraging invasions of our closest allies by murderous regimes is appalling and unhinged—and it endangers American national security, global stability, and our economy at home,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Congress approves bill barring any president from unilaterally withdrawing from NATO

Decembr 18, 2023

Congress has approved legislation that would prevent any president from withdrawing the United States from NATO without approval from the Senate or an Act of Congress, reports The Hill.

The measure, spearheaded by Senators Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) and Marco Rubio (R-Florida), was included in the annual National Defense Authorization Act, which passed out of the House on Thursday, December 14, and is expected to be signed by President Joe Biden.

The provision underscores Congress’s commitment to the NATO alliance—which was a target of former President Donald Trump’s ire during his term in office. The alliance has taken on revitalized importance under Biden, especially since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

“NATO has held strong in response to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s war in Ukraine and rising challenges around the world,” Kaine said in a statement.

He added that the legislation “reaffirms U.S. support for this crucial alliance that is foundational for our national security. It also sends a strong message to authoritarians around the world that the free world remains united.”

Rubio said the measure served as a critical tool for congressional oversight. “We must ensure we are protecting our national interests and protecting the security of our democratic allies,” he said in a statement.

Biden has invested deeply in the NATO alliance during his term, committing more troops and military resources to Europe as a show of force against Putin’s war. He also has overseen the expansion of the alliance, with the inclusion of Finland and ongoing efforts to secure Sweden’s full accession.

Trump, the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination, has sent mixed messages on the alliance ahead of 2024. The former president’s advocates say his tough talk and criticisms of the alliance served to inspire member-states to fulfill their obligations to reach 2% of defense spending, easing the burden on the United States.

But Trump’s critics say the former president’s rhetoric weakens the unity and force of purpose of the alliance. And they expressed concerns that Trump would abandon the U.S. commitment to the mutual defense pact of the alliance—or withdraw America completely.

Research contact: @thehill

Biden’s trip to Kyiv becomes ‘the ultimate humiliation’ for Putin—and Trump

February 21, 2023

Kennedy, and then Reagan, in Berlin. Now Biden in Kyiv. Periodically, during the past sixty years, American presidents have stood up at the Eastern edge of Europe and looked to Russia to say, “We stand with our allies. Our resolve is unshakeable.”

Kennedy said, “Ich bin ein Berliner.” Reagan said, “Mr. Gorbachev tear down that wall.”

And Biden, on his surprise President’s Day visit to Kyiv said, “One year later, Kyiv stands. And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands,” reports David Rothkopf in an opinion piece for The Daily Beast.

Stirringly, Rothkopf noted, just days ahead of the one-year anniversary of Russia’s brutal offensive against Ukraine, Biden walked through the streets of Kyiv, paid his respects to those who had fallen in defense of Ukraine, and said, “Freedom is priceless. It’s worth fighting for, for as long as it takes.”

Biden also invoked the conversation he had with Ukraine President Volodomyr Zelensky last February, as Russia’s massive escalation of its nine-year-old war of unprovoked aggression against Ukraine. He recalled with Zelensky at his side, “You said you didn’t know when we’d be able to speak again. That dark night … the world was literally bracing for the fall of Kyiv … perhaps even the end of Ukraine.”

Of course, the symbolism of the American president standing alongside Zelensky, walking through the Ukrainian capital even as air raid sirens sounded, carried many other messages as well.

To those fighting for Ukraine, it was a vitally important message of solidarity that came with further commitments from Biden of military support for Ukraine.

To Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, it was Biden’s way of saying, “I am here in Kyiv and you are not. You not only did not take Kyiv in days as some predicted, but your attack was rebuffed. Your army suffered a humiliating defeat from which it has not recovered.”

“We cannot know. But what we know today is that, thanks to the resolve of Biden and the West, and the inspiring courage and resilience of the people of Ukraine … Russia’s army has been weakened, depleted and revealed to be profoundly dysfunctional,” wrote Rothkopf.

“We also cannot know what challenges the next phases of this war are likely to present. But thanks to Biden’s visit today, it is crystal clear that Ukraine will not be facing them alone and that Ukraine’s enemies and their current and potential allies should never again underestimate the resolve of the United States and NATO to do what they have been doing for decades, since Kennedy’s trip and Reagan’s, to defend with whatever it takes our values, our democracies and the security provided by an international order based on the rule of law.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast

NATO leaders set to OK ‘major increases’ of troops in response to Putin’s war on Ukraine

March 24, 2022

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on March 23 that the group—an intergovernmental military alliance of 30 nations—is likely to bolster troops along its eastern flank, deploying four new battle groups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia, reports CNBC.

“I expect leaders will agree to strengthen NATO’s posture in all domains, with major increases in the eastern part of the alliance on land, in the air, and at sea,” Stoltenberg said during a press conference ahead of the NATO Leaders Summit in Brussels.

Since the Kremlin’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, NATO has readied 140,000 troops in the region and mobilized a colossal war chest of advanced military equipment. Of the approximately 140,000 troops, the United States has provided the lion’s share with 100,000 soldiers.

The U.S. service members and NATO troops are deployed in neighboring NATO-member countries and are not directly fighting with Russian forces inside Ukraine.

The alliance, which has more than 140 warships at the ready as well as 130 aircraft on heightened alert, has previously warned Putin that an attack on a NATO member state will be viewed as an attack on all, triggering the group’s cornerstone Article 5 that calls for a military response from member nations.

Ukraine, which has sought NATO membership since 2002, is bordered by four NATO allies; Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania. Poland currently hosts the majority of the troops from the 30-member alliance and has thus far taken the lion’s share of refugees fleeing Putin’s war.

U.S. President Joe Biden, who is expected to travel to Poland after attending the NATO leader’s summit on Thursday, said Wednesday that Putin’s potential use of chemical weapons to attack Ukraine is “a real threat.”

Earlier this month, Biden warned Putin could resort to using “false flags” to justify a chemical or biological weapons attack on Ukraine.

“Now he’s talking about new false flags he’s setting up … asserting that we in America have biological as well as chemical weapons in Europe, [it’s] simply not true I guarantee you,” Biden said at the business event in Washington on March 21.

“They are also suggesting that Ukraine has biological and chemical weapons in Ukraine. That’s a clear sign he’s considering using both of those,” Biden said, without presenting evidence.

Stoltenberg told reporters at the alliance headquarters in Brussels that using chemical weapons would change the nature of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

“It will be a blatant violation of international law and with far-reaching consequences,” Stoltenberg said, adding that the use of such weapons could impact nearby NATO member countries.

Stoltenberg also said that the NATO alliance soon will provide Ukraine with equipment to protect against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons. He declined to elaborate on what kind of specific support the alliance would provide out of operational security.

Russia has previously used chemical weapons on the battlefield, including in Syria.

Research contact: @CNBC

America sends Soviet air defense systems it secretly acquired to Ukraine

March 23, 2022

The United States is sending some of the Soviet-made air defense equipment that it acquired clandestinely decades ago to the Ukrainian military as it seeks to fend off  Russian air and missile attacks, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Indeed, the United States has acquired a small number of Soviet missile defense systems so that they could be examined by U.S. intelligence experts and help with training American forces. The weapons are familiar to Ukraine’s military, which inherited this type of equipment following the breakup of the Soviet Union, sources say.

The Pentagon declined to comment on the U.S. decision to reach into its little-known arsenal of Soviet weapons, which comes as the Biden Administration is mounting a major push to expand Ukraine’s air defense capabilities.

The secretive efforts received public attention in 1994 when a Soviet-made transport plane was observed at the Huntsville, Alabama, airport within sight of a major highway. It was later disclosed that the plane was carrying an S-300 air defense system that America had acquired in Belarus as part of a clandestine project involving a Pentagon contractor that cost $100 million, according to a former official involved in the mission.

The S-300—called the SA-10 by NATO—is a long-range, advanced air defense system intended to protect large areas over a much wider radius.

The SA-8 is a short-range, tactical surface-to-air missile designed to move with ground forces and provide cover from aircraft and helicopters. While the SA-8 has a shorter range, it is highly mobile and potentially easier to hide.

Some of the Soviet-style weapons have been kept at the Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, which its website notes serves as “the Army’s center for missile and rocket programs.” At least some of what the U.S. sent was from that base, said officials, who added that C-17s recently flew to a nearby airfield at Huntsville.

The S-300 from Belarus wasn’t among the systems that are being sent to Ukraine, one U.S. official said.

The United States is hoping that the provision of additional air defenses will enable Ukraine to create a de facto no-fly zone, since America and its NATO allies have rebuffed Ukraine’s appeals that the alliance establish one. Such a step, Biden Administration officials have said, could lead to a direct confrontation between the U.S.-led alliance and Russian forces, which it is determined to avoid.

Research contact: @WSJ

Biden to donate 500 million doses of Pfizer vaccine worldwide over a year

June 11, 2021

In a speech set to be delivered on Thursday, June 10, on the eve G7 Cornwall Summit in the United Kingdom, President Joe Biden plans to  outline plans for the United States to donate 500 million Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses to about 100 nations worldwide over the next year—in addition to the 80 million doses he already has pledged will be delivered by the end of this month.

According to a report by The New York Times, in making the announcement, the president will challenge his fellow G-7 leaders— from the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan—to step up vaccine distribution in their own nations and in others in order to beat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The White House reached the deal just in time for Biden’s eight-day European trip, which offers his first opportunity to reassert the United States as a world leader and restore relations that were badly frayed by former President Donald Trump.

“We have to end COVID-19, not just at home, which we’re doing, but everywhere,” Biden told American troops after landing at R.A.F. Mildenhall in Suffolk, England, on June 9. “There’s no wall high enough to keep us safe from this pandemic or the next biological threat we face, and there will be others. It requires coordinated multilateral action.”

People familiar with the Pfizer deal said the United States would pay for the doses at a “not-for-profit” price. The first 200 million doses will be distributed by the end of this year, followed by 300 million by next June, they said. The doses will be distributed through COVAX, the international vaccine-sharing initiative.

Biden is in Europe for a week to attend the NATO and Group of 7 summits and to meet with President Vladimir Putin of Russia in Geneva. In a statement on Wednesday, Jeffrey Zients, the White House official in charge of devising a global vaccination strategy, said Biden would “rally the world’s democracies around solving this crisis globally, with America leading the way to create the arsenal of vaccines that will be critical in our global fight against Covid-19.”

According to the Times, the White House is trying to spotlight its success in fighting the pandemic — particularly its vaccination campaign — and use that success as a diplomatic tool, especially as China and Russia seek to do the same. Mr. Biden has been insistent that, unlike China and Russia, which have been sharing their vaccines with dozens of countries, the United States will not seek to extract promises from countries receiving American-made vaccines.

The 500 million doses still fall far short of the 11 billion the World Health Organization estimates are needed to vaccinate the world, but significantly exceed what the United States has committed to share so far. Other nations have been pleading with the United States to give up some of its abundant vaccine supplies. Less than 1% of people are fully vaccinated in a number of African countries, compared with 42% in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Advocates for global health welcomed the news, but reiterated their stance that it is not enough for the United States to simply give vaccine away. They say the Biden Administration must create the conditions for other countries to manufacture vaccines on their own, including transferring technology to make the doses.

“The world needs urgent new manufacturing to produce billions more doses within a year, not just commitments to buy the planned inadequate supply,” Peter Maybarduk, the director of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines program, said in a statement. He added, “We have yet to see a plan from the U.S. government or the G7 of the needed ambition or urgency to make billions more doses and end the pandemic.”

The deal with Pfizer has the potential to open the door to similar agreements with other vaccine manufacturers, including Moderna, whose vaccine was developed with American tax dollars—unlike Pfizer’s. In addition, the Biden administration has brokered a deal in which Merck will help produce Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, and those doses might be available for overseas use.

The United States has already contracted to buy 300 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which requires two shots, for distribution in the United States; the 500 million doses are in addition to that, according to people familiar with the deal.

Research contact: @nytimes

MIA: President Trump departs for NATO meeting before first House Judiciary impeachment hearing

December 4, 2019

President Donald Trump will not be in the room—or even in the country—when the impeachment hearings continue this week, the White House communicated to the House Judiciary Committee in a December 2 letter.

He will be attending the NATO Summit, December 2-4 in Britain—and he has lambasted House Democrats for continuing the legal process without him, although he has so far refused to cooperate in every way possible.

As he and the first lady left the White House on December 3, the president commented, “This is one of the most important journeys that we make as President. And for them (Democrats) to be doing this and saying this and putting an impeachment on the table, which is a hoax to start off with,” Trump told a press gaggle before boarding Marine One aircraft.

“The Democrats, the radical-left Democrats, the do-nothing Democrats, decided when I’m going to NATO—this was set up a year ago—that when I’m going to NATO, that was the exact time,” he said.

According to a report by Politico, “The decision indicates that President Donald Trump has listened to his allies and some congressional Republicans who argued that a White House presence at the hearing would validate a process they have harangued as illegitimate and partisan.”

It also means that Trump will need to lean heavily on his closest GOP allies on the panel —including Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio, John Ratcliffe of Texas and Matt Gaetz of Florida —to mount an impeachment defense during the Judiciary panel’s first hearing on Wednesday featuring legal scholars.

“Under the current circumstances, we do not intend to participate in your Wednesday hearing,” White House Counsel Pat Cipollone wrote in the letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-New York), adding that “an invitation to an academic discussion with law professors does not begin to provide the president with any semblance of a fair process.”

He added, “It is too late to cure the profound procedural deficiencies that have tainted this entire inquiry …. We cannot fairly be expected to participate in a hearing while the witnesses are yet to be named and while it remains unclear whether the Judiciary Committee will afford the president a fair process through additional hearings.”

Nadler had asked Trump to indicate by Sunday whether he or a White House attorney would attend Wednesday’s hearing, an offer that Democrats said was an attempt to afford due process to Trump as he faces a likely impeachment vote before the end of the month.

Nadler also has asked Trump to reveal by the end of the week whether he intends to participate in any aspect of the Judiciary Committee’s impeachment proceedings, which are expected to continue into the following week, Politico said. Notably, Cipollone left open the possibility that the White House would participate in future hearings.

Research contact: @politico