The summer of 2018 will go into history as the moment when a US president fundamentally and decisively changed the international world order which its predecessors worked hard on during the past decades. Within approximately a week from 11 July until 16 July, President Donald Trump achieved to insult its key allies in Europe and fundamentally undermine NATO and the EU, while cozying up to what seems to be the most important adversary of the West. While this week will go into history as an arduous one for the presidency of Trump, for President Vladimir Putin, in contrast, it is one of his best since the Ukraine crisis began in 2015.
The strategic interests of Russia were met in considerable ways as its key adversaries are divided due to Trump’s bellicose and aggressive language before and during the yearly NATO summit in Brussels. The unprecedented attack on Germany during a televised lunch, which caught off-guard the host Secretary-General Stoltenberg, in many ways showcased the current administration’s interest in the financial and energy domain.
Trump claimed “Germany is totally controlled by Russia. They will be getting between 60 and 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline.” Although this is factually untrue, Germany imports 33 percent of its gas and 40 percent oil from Russia, these statements spread confusion as to what Trump’s actual endgame is. Several options are possible as to the true intentions of these statements.
This could be a negotiating strategy of Trump by putting pressure on Germany in order of significantly increasing its defense expenditure. Although NATO leaders reaffirmed after the gathering on 12 July their commitment to the pre-Trump agreement of gradually increasing defense expenditure, the US president seems adamant on even more. Trump claimed that the remaining NATO members have agreed to increase expenditure to 4 percent instead of 2 percent. This was rebuffed by the other alliance members.
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