AP Interview: Lithuania: Trump right on Europe defence costs
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VILNIUS, Lithuania — Two senior Lithuanian officials have told The Associated Press that President-elect Donald Trump is actually right that Europeans must increase military spending.
Trump stunned Washington's allies during the U.S. election campaign by suggesting that American military guarantees to NATO members could depend on whether they are paying enough on
In separate interviews with The Associated Press this week, Lithuania's foreign and
"I hope and believe — and I can't imagine otherwise — that the U.S. will remain a key player in the world and also a leader of NATO," Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said Tuesday.
"President Donald Trump said that Europe in general should put more attention on
Lithuania and the other Baltic states, Estonia and Latvia, are nervous about Russia's new assertiveness in the region, something that prompted Lithuania to ramp up its spending on its army already before Trump made his comments on NATO to The New York Times in July.
Lithuania, an Eastern European nation of 3 million people, vowed in 2014 to reach the NATO target of spending 2
Trump's praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin has also raised concerns across a region where Putin is feared.
Linkevicius noted that Trump made many statements during the campaign that he has already stepped away from, but that his criticism related to
"Frankly it was true and Europeans must deliver more," he said.
The Baltics have been shaken by Russian military interventions in Georgia, Ukraine and Syria, and many strategic analysts feel the small Baltic states — all former Soviet republics — are the most vulnerable if Russia were to continue its expansionist policies.
NATO troops this week are conducting exercises in Lithuania and in general NATO membership has given some feeling of security to a region that has come under Russian occupation in the past.