US President reaffirms support for Nato, criticises Russia

One day before his first face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, US President Donald Trump says he thinks Moscow intervened in the 2016 US election, but suggested other countries had as well.
President Donald Trump used a speech in Poland to call out Russia's 'destabilising' behavior in Europe just before the G20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, where he will meet Vladimir Putin.
At a speech in Warsaw, Poland, the US President Donald Trump said on Thursday (July 6) that the defense of the West ultimately rests on the will of its people to prevail and questioned whether the West has the will to survive.

WARSAW • President Donald Trump reaffirmed the United States' commitment to a collective security provision with European allies and criticised Russia for "destabilising activities" during a speech in Poland.

Addressing a friendly crowd in a public square in Warsaw yesterday, Mr Trump heaped effusive praise on Poland as he made the case for defending Western civilisation against challenges posed by terrorism and ideological extremism.

"The story of Poland is the story of a people who have never lost hope, who have never been broken, and who have never forgotten who they are," Mr Trump said in a speech delivered at the Warsaw monument to the 1944 resistance against German occupation, a symbol of the country's struggle to shake the brutal Nazi invasion during World War II.

His speech included an explicit commitment to Article 5, the collective security provision of the Nato treaty: "The United States has demonstrated not merely with words, but with its actions, that we stand firmly behind Article 5, the mutual defence commitment."

Mr Trump had notably omitted such a mention during a speech in late May at Nato's new headquarters in Brussels. Every US president since Harry Truman in 1949 has voiced the commitment that an attack on an alliance nation is an attack on all of them.

Mr Trump has accused European partners of owing "massive amounts of money" to Nato and raised doubts earlier about Washington's support for the Article.

The US leader also used his remarks yesterday to criticise behaviour by Russia.

"We urge Russia to cease its destabilising activities in the Ukraine and elsewhere and its support for hostile regimes, including Syria and Iran, and instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and defence of civilisation itself," Mr Trump said.

The stop in Poland was for Mr Trump a highly symbolic one. The eastern European nation is a critical US ally and strategically important state in Europe.

Poland is also among one of few Nato countries to have honoured the agreement to contribute at least 2 per cent of its gross domestic product to its own defence, an issue that Mr Trump has hammered upon during his campaign and since taking office.

The President's brief visit to Poland lasted less than 24 hours, but the White House viewed this speech as an opportunity for Mr Trump to lay out his assessment of the challenges faced by the world today.

WASHINGTON POST, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2017, with the headline 'US President reaffirms support for Nato, criticises Russia'. Print Edition | Subscribe