Vladimir Putin will be watching closely as President Trump addresses NATO. The address comes against the backdrop of multiple investigations in Congress, the FBI, and now a special prosecutor working to get to the bottom of the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russian hackers to rig our election. A key question to be answered by those investigations is why Putin would invest so heavily in Trump. The answer very likely includes Trump’s dangerous position on NATO.
Putin views NATO as both an “existential threat and a personal insult” and is squarely focused on undermining the 70-year alliance between the United States and our key western allies. As the Kremlin has been quick to praise Trump for criticizing NATO, our European allies have reacted with fear and confusion.
Here’s what you need to know about Trump, Putin, and NATO:
New York Times Editorial: Russia Gains When Donald Trump Trashes NATO
“It is puzzling indeed for a president-elect to publicly denigrate leaders of his country’s closest allies as well as an alliance that for 70 years has stood firm against Russian expansion. […] The big winner in all this is Mr. Putin, who has been working assiduously not just to delegitimize American democracy by interfering with the election but to destabilize Europe and weaken if not destroy NATO, which he blames for the Soviet Union’s collapse. Mr. Putin will almost certainly try to persuade Mr. Trump to withdraw American support for NATO’s plans to reinforce its defenses against a newly assertive Russia. As part of that effort, an American convoy crossed into Poland last week; on Monday, the deployment of 330 American Marines to Norway began. Reversing course any time soon would be a huge mistake.”
Vanity Fair: Donald Trump Just Offered Putin Exactly What He Wants
“Doubling down on his goal to upend the established world order and remake it in his own image—one that looks particularly like Vladimir Putin’s own vision for Europe— Donald Trump told two foreign newspapers over the weekend that he would consider lifting sanctions on Russia and believes that the NATO alliance, put in place to check Russian influence in the wake of WWII, is ‘obsolete.’”
Buzzfeed: Russian Government Agrees With Trump That NATO Is “Obsolete”
“A Kremlin spokesman has said the Russian government agrees with Donald Trump’s comments that NATO is “obsolete,” which the president-elect made during his first major interview with two European newspapers, published over the weekend. In his discussion with UK’s The Times and Germany’s Bild, Trump also criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the European Union, but praised Brexit and predicted more countries would follow the UK in leaving the EU. On Monday, the Kremlin reacted warmly to Trump’s NATO criticism, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov declaring that “confrontation is the systemic goal of this organization.”
Bloomberg: Trump Trashes 70 Years of U.S. Foreign Policy in NATO Attack
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump trashed seven decades of U.S. policy toward Europe in one interview that left foreign policy experts and some in his party saying his approach could embolden Russia and make the world more dangerous. By questioning whether the U.S. would defend its NATO allies equally, Trump appeared to be rolling back the alliance’s front lines further from Russia’s borders and providing a boost to President Vladimir Putin, two years after the Russian leader sent troops and armed supporters into Crimea and Ukraine.”
Published: May 25, 2017