U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to break with NATO and conduct American security unilaterally if allies do not immediately meet higher military spending targets.
Trump warned of “grave consequences” if allies do not immediately meet higher spending targets, as he demands a plan from alliance members by January on how to reach the spending target during a morning meeting of NATO leaders with the leaders of Georgia and Ukraine on the second day of a NATO leaders’ summit on Thursday.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg had to shift the meeting of the North Atlantic Council, the alliance’s top political body, into an allies-only emergency session as they tried to digest the import of Trump’s threat.
Later at a press conference, Trump did not respond to a question about whether he had threatened to pull the U.S. out of NATO. Instead, he answered another part of the question, which asked if he could pull out without congressional approval. He said: “I think I can.”
Even before taking office in January 2017, Trump has excoriated allies for not spending more on defense, though he often seems not to understand NATO financing and has repeatedly complained that allies “owed” a huge debt.