After Trump called Putin a “competitor” and “not my enemy” on Thursday, lawmakers from both parties have voiced stern warnings to Trump not to go soft on the Russian leader when two presidents sit down together in Helsinki on Monday.
“Putin is not America’s friend, nor merely a competitor. Putin is America’s enemy — not because we wish it so, but because he has chosen to be,” Republican Senator John McCain said is a statement.
“It is up to President Trump to hold Putin accountable for his actions during the meeting in Helsinki. Failure to do so would be a serious indictment of his stewardship of American leadership in the world,” he added.
“Easiest” Part of the Trip
Concerns about Donald Trump’s commitment to America’s European allies cast a long shadow over the NATO summit that closed up shop in Brussels on Thursday.
Trump headed for Europe on a confrontational note after he repeatedly demanded in recent days that NATO countries ramp up their defense spending and stop freeloading on the US for security.
Trump clashed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday, saying that Germany was “totally controlled by Russia” because it imports large amounts of Russian natural gas.
He also angered US allies by telling reporters in Brussels that he expected his upcoming meeting with Vladimir Putin to be “the easiest” part of his week-long European trip.
The two-day NATO summit, which kicked off in Brussels on Wednesday, brought together the heads of state and heads of government of the 29-nation military alliance.
The discussions had been clouded well in advance by Washington’s demand for partners’ compliance with the 2-percent spending target and the recent disagreements demonstrated at the G7 summit in Quebec, Canada.