The summit is shaping up to be one of the most difficult alliance gatherings in years as Trump continues to pressure NATO allies to increase their military spending.
Trump has repeatedly criticized alliance members for their levels of defense spending ahead of the meeting.
In a series of tweets and comments to reporters as he departed Washington, D.C., on July 10, Trump suggested NATO’s other 28 members should “reimburse” the United States for its spending on the alliance.
Most worried are the the East-European members of the Alliance, who fer the growing Russian threat. Poland and Romania are actually hosting key elements of the US-built anti-missile shield, and fear that Trump might want to dismantle it.
Some Alliance members have privately voiced concern that Trump might also pull out of a major upcoming military exercises, including one, Trident Juncture, scheduled for October. Another set for November, called Anakonda, will be testing the alliance response in defending NATO member Poland.
Accusations that Russia is trying to destabilize the West with cyber attacks and covert action have laid the ground for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s biggest expansion for decades, backed by a surge in U.S. defense spending in Europe.
The meeting brings together more than 40 heads of government including the 29 allies and non-member partners from Finland to Afghanistan, underlining the organization’s reach.
As Trump arrived in Brussels, the U.S. Senate passed by a 97-2 margin a motion to “reaffirm the ironclad U.S. commitment under Article 5 to the collective defense of the alliance.”