Trump May Halt NATO Expansion

The US presidential hopeful is reportedly considering options to stop the Ukraine conflict

Former US President Donald Trump, a potential contender for the presidency again in the November election, is reportedly considering a deal with Russia to prevent NATO from expanding into Ukraine and Georgia, according to a Politico article citing unnamed sources.

Trump’s campaign hasn’t yet announced a national security team or outlined a new agenda for NATO, but a possible approach emerged in a story published Tuesday.

“As part of a plan for Ukraine that has not been previously reported, the presumptive GOP nominee is mulling a deal whereby NATO commits to no further eastward expansion — specifically into Ukraine and Georgia — and negotiates with Russian President Vladimir Putin over how much Ukrainian territory Moscow can keep,” the story said, quoting two “Trump-aligned national security experts.”

One unnamed source reportedly familiar with Trump’s thinking said he was “open to something foreclosing NATO expansion and not going back to the 1991 borders for Ukraine,” but didn’t rule out other options, “including supplying large amounts of weapons” to Ukraine.

While Trump is “unlikely” to abandon NATO entirely, he’s likely to revamp the US-led alliance to make its European members take on more responsibilities – something Politico’s sources worry they are not equipped to do.

European members of the alliance that don’t spend at least 2% of their GDP on the military  “wouldn’t enjoy the defense largess and security guarantee” of the US, according to one unnamed Trump-aligned source. 

The US “does not have enough military forces to go around,” Elbridge Colby, Trump’s deputy assistant defense secretary for strategy, told Politico. “We can’t break our spear in Europe against the Russians when we know the Chinese and Russians are collaborating, and the Chinese are a more dangerous and significant threat.”

European members of the alliance “need to be producing combat credible forces to deal with a Russian attack, like now,” Colby added.

As part of a “radical reorientation” of NATO under Trump, the US would retain its air and naval bases in Europe, but leave the “bulk of infantry, armor, logistics and artillery” to be handled by the European allies.

According to Politico, EU countries are “plainly not prepared to fill a dramatically expanded military role anytime soon,” while the continent is “weaker economically and more dependent on US energy supplies than ever before.”

“It’s important to note that all these opinions are not from Donald Trump,” Richard Grenell, his former acting director of national intelligence, (formerly Twitter) in response to the Politico article. The Trump campaign did not respond to the outlet’s requests for comment.