In a Tuesday-morning tweet, President Donald Trump said his closed-door meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday was „better” than his summit last week with NATO allies in Brussels.
„While I had a great meeting with NATO, raising vast amounts of money, I had an even better meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia,” Trump wrote. „Sadly, it is not being reported that way — the Fake News is going Crazy!”
During Monday’s summit in Finland, Trump shocked the world and caused several high-profile members of the Republican Party to strongly rebuke him when he shrugged off Russian election meddling in 2016, cast doubt on the findings of his own intelligence agencies, and directly criticized the FBI.
Trump’s defense of Russian interests at the expense of European allies and the US intelligence community is a trend that has been building for months, leaving America’s closest allies bewildered.
On Sunday, Trump described the European Union as a „foe” during an interview with CBS from his golf course in Scotland.
„In a trade sense, they’ve really taken advantage of us,” he said, adding that Russia was a foe in „certain respects.”
During the NATO summit in Brussels the week prior, Trump slammed the US’s close allies on multiple occasions for not contributing enough, in his view, to military spending or to NATO’s budget. He also said Germany was being „controlled” by Russia because it relied on natural gas from Russia for some of its energy.
Beyond firing off tweets critical of the US’s historically close European allies, Trump also reportedly arrived 30 minutes late to the first day of the summit, missing two big meetings with other world leaders and causing NATO’s secretary-general to call an emergency session.
On Monday, following Trump’s sustained attacks on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and his referring to the EU as a foe, Germany’s foreign minister said his nation could „no longer completely rely” on the US.
Trump also defended Russia at the G7 summit in Canada in June, reportedly suggesting to attendees that Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine was justified because most Crimeans spoke Russian.
On his way out of the G7 summit, Trump continued to criticize the prime minister of Canada, one of the US’s closest allies, over trade issues, calling him „indignant” in a tweet.