Trump Goes Tough on Russia, Asks Whether West Has Will to Survive 

During his visit to Poland ahead of the G-20 summit, Trump urged “Russia to cease its destabilising activities”. 

3 min read
US President Donald Trump in Poland

President Donald Trump affirmed US commitment to the defence of NATO allies on Thursday in a Warsaw (Poland) speech that gently criticised Russia, and said Western civilisation must stand up to “those who would subvert and destroy it”.

The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive...Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilisation in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?
Donald Trump 

In his second trip to Europe as President and shortly before leaving for a potentially fractious G-20 meeting in Germany, Trump appeared at pains to soothe US allies after unnerving them in May by failing to endorse the principle of collective defence enshrined in Article Five of the NATO treaty.

As a Presidential candidate, Trump called NATO obsolete, but he has since changed his position on the alliance's relevance.

Trump’s Tough Words For Russia Ahead of Meeting With Putin

The President also had tough words for Russia on Thursday, though he did not fully endorse allegations, backed by US intelligence agencies, that Moscow interfered in the 2016 Presidential election that he won.

Trump meets President Vladimir Putin for the first time face-to-face on Friday in Hamburg, the site of the G20 summit.

We urge Russia to cease its destabilising activities in Ukraine and elsewhere and its support for hostile regimes including Syria and Iran, and to instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and the defence of civilisation itself.
Donald Trump

The Kremlin said Russia was not guilty of any destablising activity.

Warsaw Visit Billed as an Effort to Patch up Relations With European Allies

The brief visit to Warsaw, to take part in a gathering of regional heads of state, was billed by the White House as an effort to patch up relations with European allies after a tense NATO summit in May.

Trump reiterated criticism of low defence spending levels by many European nations and praised Poland for meeting the alliance’s target of spending two percent of economic output on defence.

“To those who would criticise our tough stance, I would point out that the United States has demonstrated not merely with words but with its actions that we stand firmly behind Article 5, the mutual defence commitment,” he said to applause.

Article Five of NATO's 1949 founding charter states that an attack on any member is an attack on all, and allies must render assistance, military if need be.

US President Donald Trump with his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda
US President Donald Trump with his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda
(Photo: AP)

The stopover was a major diplomatic coup for Poland’s conservative government, which has faced mounting criticism from Brussels over its democratic record and a refusal to accept migrants fleeing war in the Middle East.

The eurosceptic administration agrees with Trump on issues such as migration, climate change, coal mining or abortion, and wants EU institutions to give back some of their powers to national governments.

Trump’s Veiled Criticism of EU

“We've discussed our mutual commitment to safeguarding the values at the heart of our alliance: freedom, sovereignty and the rule of law,” Trump said in a joint press conference after meeting Polish President Andrzej Duda.

In what was likely veiled criticism of the European Union, Trump condemned “the steady creep of government bureaucracy” and cited the importance of national sovereignty.

In his speech near a monument that commemorates the 1944 Warsaw Uprising against Nazi Germany, the President painted the fight against terrorism, illegal immigration and excessive government powers as an existential one.

Two Different Views of Western Values

European and other G-20 partners have a view of Western values that does not align with Trump’s.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has allowed scores of Syrian refugees into her country, drawing both criticism and praise, and has made fighting global warming a top priority at the summit.

Trump has decided to pull the United States out of the Paris accord on climate change.

(This article has been edited for length)

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