President Donald Trump had privately voiced his desire to withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, The New York Times is reporting.
He made his comments several times during 2018, the newspaper said, attributing the information to senior administration officials.
In the days leading up to the NATO summit meeting last summer, Trump reportedly told national security officials he saw no point to the military alliance and claimed it was a drain on the U.S.
Trump had publicly praised the summit with NATO leaders and said it was “a great meeting.”
But the Times reported his private desire to withdraw from NATO is sparking new concerns among national security officials in light of reports of the president’s effort to keep his meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin secret.
Withdrawing from NATO “would be one of the most damaging things that any president could do to U.S. interests,” said Michèle A. Flournoy, an undersecretary of defense under Barack Obama.
And retired Adm. James Stavridis, the one-time supreme allied commander of NATO, added: “Even discussing the idea of leaving NATO — let alone actually doing so — would be the gift of the century for Putin.”
After annexing Crimea in 2014, Russia has concentrated on weakening solidarity between the U.S. and Europe, the newspaper said. Moscow views NATO as a threat, according to the newspaper.
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