NATO Defence Ministers began two days of talks in Brussels on Wednesday,15 February 2017, focusing on ensuring NATO’s strength and flexibility in the face of evolving challenges. Ministers will review progress in deploying NATO’s deterrent forces in the eastern part of the Alliance and assess what NATO can do in the fight against terrorism, says the official announcement of the Alliance.
In his debut trip to Europe as Pentagon chief, Mattis is set to continuity of previous U.S. calls for European allies to invest more on defense, the message the U.S. defense secretaries under Republican and Democratic administrations have done in decades.
President Trump has moderated his criticism of NATO since taking office, but has maintained messaging to some allies for failing to make “full and proper financial contributions.”
“Many of them have not been even close,” Trump said commenting on European defense spending. “And they have to do that,” Trump told U.S. troops in Florida earlier this month. This financial request makes some of the allies feel unease, especially Italy, struggling to come out from financial crisis.
The finance debate has overshadowed at least to some extend the major issue of the NATO, it’s raison d’être – the relations with Russia.
The ‘holy war’ of the Democrats against president Trump and his administration in attempt to block any of his electoral promises implementation, including the anticipated by many moderation of policy towards Russia, does not allow NATO’s reform, and moreover the alliance with Kremlin to defeat Islamic State. The defeat of the “radical Islamic terrorism” is of the priorities of Trump’s foreign policy.
The NATO as the product of the cold war era was called “obsolete” by present Trump during the election campaign, however the US internal political confrontation does not allow him to start any reforms at the moment. The issue of NATO-Russia relations is not expected to be resolved as long as the political stalemate in Washington stays, delaying the defeat of Islamic State, profiting from the policy of confrontation between the West and Russia to expand its powers to North Africa.