Trump called to explain Nato policy

Trump called to explain Nato policy

Nato has pledged to increase its Polish role. Source: Wikimedia


Leaders of Nato members and senior former military commanders have called on president-elect Donald Trump to clarify his position on Nato amid fears that his rhetoric on Russia could undermine security.

The warnings came as the Kremlin confirmed that it had been in touch with Trump’s team during the election campaign, despite repeated denials of interference in the poll.

There were contacts with Trump’s team before the election, said Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister. “I don’t say that all of them, but a whole array of them, supported contacts with Russian representatives,” Ryabkov said, adding that Hillary Clinton’s team had refused invitations to meet.

He said that there was “no euphoria” over Trump’s election and Russia did “not expect anything special from the new US administration”. “We have not seen any reason to depart from our assessment of the campaign that there was a bipartisan consensus in the United States that has an anti-Russian basis,” Ryabkov said.

NATO head Jens Stoltenberg stressed the continued importance of US global leadership after Trump’s election was confirmed. “Our alliance has brought together America’s closest friends in times of peace and of conflict for almost 70 years. A strong Nato is good for the United States and good for Europe,” Stoltenberg said.

Polish President Andrzej Duda urged Trump push ahead with Nato commitments to bolster its eastern defences. “We sincerely hope that your leadership will open new opportunities for our cooperation based on mutual commitment,” Duda explained.

Trump has been praised in the Russian media as a realist who will end perceived US aggression against Russia. There was applause in the Duma, the Russian parliament, when his victory was announced.  Russian politicians talk about Trump dropping sanctions or formally recognising the 2014 annexation of Crimea, which was seized from Ukraine.

Military analysts fear Trump could allow Russia to repeat Ukraine-style invasions of Baltic Nato members, which have ethnic Russian minorities.

Trump called Nato an “obsolete and extremely expensive” and has suggested he would not honour Article 5 commitments to defend other Nato members unless he was satisfied they had paid their fair share for defence.

“The danger is that if there is any question mark over the implementation of Article 5, that effectively neutralises the Nato doctrine of collective defence. It casts doubt on its credibility. So the deterrent effect is neutralised,” said General Sir Richard Shirreff, an ex-Nato deputy commander in Europe.

Shirreff added that he was “sympathetic” to the argument that other Nato members needed to invest more in defence, explaining that “by failing to step up to the mark, Europe is reinforcing this isolationist tendency in the United States”.

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