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    German soldiers attend a ceremony to welcome the German battalion being deployed to Lithuania as part of NATO deterrence measures against Russia in Rukla, Lithuania February 7, 2017

    NATO Again Makes Russia 'the Enemy' as Trump Backtracks on Criticism

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    After NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg visited US President Donald Trump at the White House, Trump claimed that NATO, which he had long criticized, was “no longer obsolete" and should find ways to engage ever more in the fight against terrorism.

    Throughout the 2016 US election campaign and since his inauguration, Trump repeatedly criticized NATO as outdated and questioned its purpose, vowing to review Washington's commitment to the alliance. Despite the hype around the US abandoning NATO, the Trump administration has in fact moved rapidly toward the traditional neoconservative security approach of hyper militarism.

    "I have nothing other expected from such a meeting. Both sides agreed that NATO must be strong and that all the countries have to pay more for its military budget," Reiner Braun, co-president of the International Peace Bureau, told Radio Sputnik's Brian Becker.

    "NATO is continuing what it was since its existence — an aggressive military alliance. It never changed character."  

    Trump had been calling for NATO members to pay their fair share of the alliance's burdens instead of relying on the US for funding. His attitude toward the alliance has changed as NATO members have showed a greater willingness to financially commit to its activities. A number of member states have already increased their funding allocations in recent months.

    "People in Europe don't want to spend more money for military purposes. We need the money for social activities, for environmental purposes, for education, for health care, and not for tanks and not for bombs. So how to convince people that don't want to send more money?… You have to create the enemy picture: Russia. This is the background of the whole campaign they are doing," Braun said during the Loud & Clear broadcast.

    Braun said Russia, which spends far less than the US on its military, is being falsely accused of aggression.

    ​"The military budget of Russia in 2016 is $53 billion, the additional amount of money Trump wants to spend for 2018 is $54 billion. Who is aggressive against whom?" he asked.

    At a press conference following his meeting with Stoltenberg, Trump expressed the hope that Europeans will have nothing to fear from Russia as he seeks to de-escalate tensions. Meanwhile, NATO is building up its military forces in Eastern European nations close to Russia, while claiming that their own buildup poses no threat.

    "This is an aggressive alliance fighting against Russia, coming… nearer and nearer to the border, against the spirit of the Paris Charter from 1990 and all of the agreements at the end of the Cold War era." Braun said.

    "More weapons nearer to the borders never makes a situation more safe. It makes us [less safe] than we are now… A big majority of the Europeans wanted neat, peaceful relations [with] Russia. Russia is a part of Europe. Peace in Europe is impossible without peaceful relations with the biggest country in the world."

    Trump made clear he wanted not to dismantle NATO but to strengthen it so that it plays a far larger role in the campaign to destroy Daesh and combat terrorism around the world. Braun said he was alarmed by NATO trying on the new role of a "global military alliance," claiming that that new posture also represents a global threat.    

    Related:

    Trump: 'I Said NATO Was Obsolete. It's No Longer Obsolete'
    Trump: NATO No Longer Obsolete, Needs to Play Bigger Role Fighting Daesh
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    aggression, NATO, Russia, United States
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