EU members France and Germany are increasingly worried about potential aggression from Russia, especially after Trump’s suggestion to pull out the US troops from Europe, Independent reported.
French and German leaders are “scared to death” Donald Trump may be preparing to pull American forces off the continent, according to the former US defence secretary. Leon Panetta confirmed Trump’s longstanding promise to withdraw troops, that move causes a panic in European capitals. Consequently, France and Germany pledged increases in defence spending as European leaders face mounting pressure from President Trump to pay more for their own defence ahead of this week’s NATO summit.
French decided to raise its defence budget gradually over the next seven years to meet the Western military alliance’s target of 2 per cent of GDP. Moreover, in an attempt to restore confidence in his presidency, Emmanuel Macron will address both houses of parliament in a rare joint session in the gilded splendour of the Palace of Versailles on Monday, on the eve of the traditional Bastille Day military parade.
Germany says it is also boosting defence spending because of new threats.
“The challenges for Nato have changed drastically in recent years,”
Chancellor Merkel said in her weekly video address but didn’t give any detail or date regarding Germany’s increasing its defence budget.
NATO two-day summit vs Putin-Trump meeting
On Wednesday, NATO two-day summit opens in Brussels, Jens Stoltenberg, the Alliance secretary-general, welcomed the promised increase but said it was not enough. He told Bild am Sonntag newspaper that one and a half per cent is not 2 percent.
“I welcome the fact that Germany is significantly increasing its defence spending. But I expect Germany to do more,”
At the same time, Vladimir Putin will meet with Donald Trump on July 16 in Helsinki, that historical meeting will be extremely important at a time of heightened tensions between Russia and the EU.
The US keeps 35,000 soldiers in Germany, 12,000 in Italy, 8,500 in the UK and 3,300 in Spain. They also form large swathes of the 8,000 NATO troops in countries on Russia’s border, including Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
However, Pentagon is already reviewing the possible impact of reducing these numbers – with a special focus on Germany, Washington Post reported.