3. Allies fear Trump-Putin summit
America's allies in Europe are worried about President Trump's expected meeting next month with Vladimir Putin.
Senior officials from four NATO member nations tell Jonathan Swan that their worst fear is that Trump will clash with America's allies at the NATO summit in Brussels on July 11-12, then will shortly afterward lavish praise on Putin.
- These officials say that would leave Europeans feeling abandoned, and would advance Russia's goal of dividing European and transatlantic alliances.
Poland's Anna Maria Anders — a senator and a secretary of state, who has mostly nice things to say about President Trump — told Swan:
- "We are worried. Definitely worried," about the Trump-Putin summit. "Because you can't predict what is going to be said ... Putin can be extremely charming, and it's a question of how our president will react." (Yes, she referred to Trump as "our" president. More on that below.)
- "[W]e are all hoping ... that he [Trump] will not be charmed to such an extent that he will be tempted to give anything up, because we don't want him to give anything up. I guess, above all, we don't want him to give up U.S. forces on Polish soil."
- "We're praying that this will not happen, but time will tell. I think you won't find anybody in the Trump administration, or anywhere, who will be able to tell you which way it's going to go."
Another senior European official: "The fear is the sequence — a bad NATO summit followed by a good Putin meeting, with the two leaders embracing."
- The official said he worries this will be a repeat of the G7 in Canada: Trump provokes a fight with his closest allies, then lavishes praise on a dictator as he did on Kim Jong-un in Singapore following the G7.
- Other sources say they're fretting about what other concessions Trump might make. They're hoping he doesn't make any spontaneous promises to Putin over Syria or sanctions.
Fun fact: That's not a typo above. Anders, the Polish senator, did inadvertently refer to Trump as "our" president:
- Anders is unusual in that she holds U.S. as well as Polish citizenship. She owns property in the U.S., and says she voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
- Poland is also one of the few NATO nations to meet its defense commitments. So her concerns — which she says are mirrored across the Polish government — may carry extra weight.
Tony Blinken, who served as deputy national security adviser and John Kerry's deputy in the Obama administration, told us that Trump "has an opportunity to reverse the narrative that he's too hard on our allies and too eager to cozy up to Putin."
- Blinken said Trump could do so by demonstrating a "strong, unified alliance" with NATO members, and then "go to Putin and put front and center the widespread concerns across our allies about Russian meddling in our democracies."
Garrett Marquis, the National Security Council spokesperson, replied when asked about this reporting:
- "This is the greatest, most successful Alliance in history, and NATO’s military forces are the best in the world. The President is committed to the Alliance, as he has stated repeatedly. Our commitment to Article 5 is ironclad."
- "There is no better way to signal NATO’s resolve and contribute to our deterrence and defense posture than for each and every Ally to allocate the resources necessary to share their burden of our collective defense. We have made tremendous progress and we are stronger and more capable because of it."