President Donald Trump took to social media Friday to chastise French President Emanuel Macron’s calls for a “true European army” to defend the continent against increasing threats from Russia, China and other near-peer adversaries.
In a Twitter post, Mr. Trump characterized Mr. Macron’s claims as “very insulting” to the long-standing mutual defense agreements between Washington and Paris, as part of the NATO alliance. In the Twitter posting, Mr. Trump also took France and other western European nations to task for not meeting the U.S. demand for NATO members to contribute two percent of their country’s gross domestic product to the alliance’s defense.
“President Macron of France has just suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the U.S., China and Russia. Very insulting,” Mr. Trump wrote. “But perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the U.S. subsidizes greatly!” he added in the social media posting.
Mr. Trump’s comments come days before he and Russian President Vladimir Putin are slated to meet with Mr. Macron in Paris, for commemoration ceremonies dedicated to end of World War I. Administration officials indicated Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin would hold a face-to-face meeting on the sidelines of the ceremonies, but that plan was later scrubbed by the White House.
The young French leader voiced the need for a “true European Army” to fortify the continent’s eastern borders, during an interview with Europe 1 on Tuesday.
“We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America,” Mr. Macron said, adding European leaders “will not protect the Europeans unless we decide to have a true European army.”
Citing the Trump administration’s souring view on NATO, particularly its chastising of France, Germany and other alliance members for not paying their fair share toward Europe’s defense, Mr. Macron said western allies on the continent “need a Europe which defends itself better alone, without just depending on the United States, in a more sovereign manner.”