Monday

29th May 2017

US urges Europe to spend more on Nato

  • Mattis (c) spoke of a new "political reality" in the US (Photo: defense.gov)

The US has threatened to reduce its involvement in Nato if Europeans did not spend more on their militaries. It also criticised Russia, amid confusion on Trump's foreign policy.

US defence chief Jim Mattis issued the warning after a meeting of Nato defence ministers in Brussels on Wednesday (15 February).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Trump said on Wednesday he might accept a one-state solution on the Arab-Israeli conflict (Photo: whitehouse.gov)

“I owe it to you to give you clarity on the political reality in the United States … America will meet its responsibilities, but if your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to this alliance, each of your capitals needs to show support for our common defence,” he told press.

“No longer can the American taxpayer carry a disproportionate share of the defence of western values,” he added.

Nato allies agreed in 2014, the year that Russia invaded Ukraine, to spend at least 2 percent of their GDPs on security, but three years later just five out of the 28 members have reached that level.

US president Donald Trump had earlier said he might not defend Nato allies who did not spend more.

He has flip-flopped on Nato, both calling it “obsolete” and saying that it was “very important.”

He has also praised Russia, while his senior aides, according to leaks by US intelligence, cultivated contacts with Russian diplomats and intelligence officers.

Mattis tried to put the “obsolete” jibe to rest with staunch praise of the alliance.

“The alliance remains a fundamental bedrock for the United States and the trans-Atlantic community, bonded as we are together,” he said alongside Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday.

“As president Trump has stated, he has strong support for Nato,” Mattis said.

The White House has also talked tough on Russia in reaction to the intelligence leaks.

Trump’s spokesman said this week that Russia must give back Crimea to Ukraine, while Trump tweeted that if the former US administration had been more “tough” on Russia it might not have invaded Ukraine in the first place.

Mattis ploughed the same furrow at the Nato meeting.

He said the Trump-Russia leaks had had “no impact” on his message.

He said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine meant that “our hopes for some kind of partnership with Russia were finally shown to be unavailing.”

“We must … defend ourselves if Russia chooses to act contrary to international law,” he said.

“We are not willing … to surrender the values of this alliance nor let Russia, through its actions, speak louder than anyone in this room.”

When asked by media what Mattis meant by “moderating” US involvement in Nato, Stoltenberg said the US envoy had voiced an “extraordinarily strong commitment to Nato” in Wednesday’s talks.

He noted that the US was increasing the number of its troops in Europe as part of a Nato force designed to deter Russian aggression.

He urged European states to increase spending, but added: “We’ve a long way to go”.

He also raised the alarm on Russia’s cyber threat, saying that “several” Nato states had reported “a steep increase” in cyber attacks and that Nato’s own IT systems had seen a 60 percent spike in Russian assaults last year.

Stoltenberg announced that Nato would open a new command centre in Naples, Italy, to coordinate information on the situation in Libya and in the Middle East, but he ruled out any “combat role” for Nato in Syria.

Middle East bombshell

US vice-president Mike Pence, secretary of state Rex Tillerson, and Mattis will go to the Munich Security Conference in Germany this weekend to shed more light on Trump’s foreign policy.

Trump himself on Wednesday indicated a potential U-turn on a decades-old US and EU position on the Middle East peace process.

UN powers had said that Israel and Palestine should have states of their own with Jerusalem as a shared capital.

Trump said alongside Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington: “I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like."

He also said he would “love” to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which Israel has claimed for itself.

The former US administration and EU diplomats have said that a one-state solution meant either that the Palestinian population would one day form a majority in Israel, or that Israel would become an apartheid state that denied Palestinian rights in order to maintain its Jewish identity.

Juncker attacks US on Nato spending

The commission head says the US should count EU development spending as a form of security, in a direct challenge to US comments on Nato.

Opinion

The need for global cooperation in stopping Iran

Although Trump said he would tear up the Iran Nuclear Agreement, the new administration seems to want to work on a new policy toward Iran. Let's hope European leaders will respond in kind to this approach.

Schulz opposes '2 percent' Nato goal

The centre-left candidate for the most powerful position in Europe said, if elected, the German government would not pursue the goal of having a “highly armed army in the middle of Europe”.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhat's Going on in Catalonia? Join the Debate on 8 June
  2. Swedish EnterprisesDo We Need a More Social Europe? A Lively Debate Awaits You on 7 June
  3. Centre Maurits CoppietersDiscover the Role of Feminism in the Peripheries of Europe on 9 June
  4. Malta EU 2017EU Group Launched to Focus on Priorities and Policies Concerning Children
  5. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  7. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  8. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  9. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  10. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  11. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  12. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade

Latest News

  1. Macron and Putin hold uneasy first talks
  2. From Greece to Scotland, we stand by Europe
  3. Juncker keen to build EU 'bridge' to Trump
  4. Ministers water down post-Dieselgate reform
  5. Club de combat: des espions russes recherchent des recrues européennes
  6. Judges refuse to 'let go' of Le Pen's fake jobs case
  7. Merkel: Europe cannot rely on its allies anymore
  8. Macron to tell Putin EU sanctions to stay