As if awakened from a deep sleep by Russian tanks and warplanes, NATO members in Europe are now shipping lethal weaponry --- Javelin and Stinger missiles, machine guns and automatic rifles --- into Ukraine’s neighbor Poland, where the weapons are being trucked into the war zone in Ukraine. Along with weapons, helmets, body armor, and field rations are also being shipped into Ukraine from NATO, including from Germany, after its leaders reversed a post-World War II policy about arming nations that are involved in armed conflict.
"Once again, Donald Trump was right,” Gary Bauer tells AFN. “We're seeing the clear proof of that today.”
NATO, fearing war with Russia, walking narrow path to aid Ukraine
Chad Groening, AFN
Last Friday, NATO General-Secretary Jens Stoltenberg acknowledged the suffering of the Ukrainian people as Russia surrounds and shells cities, forcing more than a million refugees so far into surrounding countries.
“What is taking place now in Ukraine is horrific. It’s painful,” Stoltenberg told reporters after a NATO meeting. “And we see human suffering. We see destruction at a scale we haven’t seen in Europe since the Second World War.”
In that very same statement, however, the NATO general vowed NATO forces will not cross into Ukraine, either on the ground or in the air. That appeared to be a statement directed at Volodymr Zelensky, Ukaraine's president, who is pleading for NATO to implement a no-fly zone.
Zelensky did so as recently as this weekend, when he spoke to approximately 300 U.S. lawmakers in a Zoom call.
According to Politico, lawmakers vowed to help Zelensky get fighter jets but his call for a no-fly zone met "stiff resistance" among them over fears it would trigger war with Russia.
Also during the weekend, Russia's defense ministry said it is aware Ukrainian fighter jets have been redeployed from the battlefield to Romania and other neighboring countries. If those aircraft attack from those countries, a spokesman said, it could be considered "as those countries' engagement in the military conflict."
That warning comes at the time same the U.S. is talking with Poland about transferring Polish-owned Mig-29 jets to Ukraine and receive U.S.-owned F-16s in return.
A spokesman for Poland, however, cited Russia's warning and called the possible trade a "very delicate matter."
Bauer and many others have not forgotten that Trump, as president, demanded NATO members in Europe fulfill their own 2016 pledge made during the Obama administration to increase military spending. That unmet pledge was to increase spending to just 2% of their budget but Trump, as recently as 2018, was urging them at an annual meeting to increase the military defense spending to 4%.
That 2018 story, from CNBC, quotes NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg who told the media that eight of 29 allied countries in NATO had hit the 2% goal.
"We should first get to two percent," Stoltenberg complained at the time, but anyone with knowledge of negotiating could understand Trump's negotiating tactic.
According to a Reuters story of that encounter, NATO members “brushed off” Trump’s demand as another example of his “brash” behavior that was unwelcomed among the more diplomatic politicians.
Now, four years later, war has come to NATO’s footsteps. Germany’s chancellor announced two weeks ago the nation would increase defense spending from 1.53% to more than 2% of its economic output, Reuters reported.
"We will have to invest more in the security of our country,” Chancellor Olaf Scholv told parliament, “to protect our freedom and democracy.”
Speaking to her AFR radio audience, show host Sandy Rios played a clip of then-President Donald Trump speaking at the United Nations, where he warned Germany’s delegation about “totally depending” on Russia for its fuel and gas.
“Reliance on a single foreign supplier can leave a nation vulnerable to extortion and intimidation,” Trump said in his speech. “That is why we congratulate European states such as Poland for leading the construction of a Baltic pipeline, so that nations are not dependent on Russia to meet their energy needs.”
Rios pointed out to her audience that television cameras, panning to Germany's delegation, showed the Germans snickering at Trump’s warning.
“I wish there was some way,” Bauer says, “to send one big apology letter to former President Trump.”
Editor's Note: The DIVISION is a division of the American Family Association, the parent organization of the American Family News Network, which operates AFN.net.