This week, at a critical juncture with our European and North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies, President Donald Trump is set to attend the NATO Heads of State and Governments Summit in Belgium. During the president’s trip to Europe, he will also visit the United Kingdom and meet with senior leaders of the British government, including a meeting with the queen of England. Finally, President Trump will have his much-anticipated meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland.
As Utah’s member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and as a member of the Europe and Eurasia Subcommittee, I am hopeful to see a few things happen during President Trump’s historic visit to Europe.
It is important to recognize that this trip comes at a significant moment in transatlantic relations. As the president looks to reconstruct our trade partnerships around the world, our relationships with some of our strongest allies are being tested. This could not have been more clearly demonstrated than during the recent G7 meetings in Canada where many of our closest allies sternly criticized the Trump administration’s imposition of a number of trade tariffs — especially the damaging tariffs on steel and aluminum.
Although there is passionate disagreement about the proper course on trade relations, the NATO alliance should remain solidly unified on the issue of security cooperation. And while I strongly agree with the president’s ardent insistence that all the members of the alliance pay their fair share toward funding NATO, I would hope that the president will use this upcoming summit to reinforce the importance of NATO and the United States’ strong commitment to the alliance.
With the rising tensions between Western nations and Russia, I believe that the NATO alliance is more important than it has ever been since the Cold War. This alliance of 28 countries from around the world is a pillar of American interests since its inception many decades ago. The United States should continue to support and lead in this alliance, a champion of peace and security. I hope under President Trump’s leadership the United States will strongly stand with our NATO and European allies against an increasingly hostile and aggressive Russia.
Similarly, I would hope to see President Trump work to strengthen the “special relationship” between the U.S. and the United Kingdom. Our nations are bound by a shared history and a common set of values. The U.K. has historically been, and I believe should remain, our strongest and closest ally. As the U.K. grapples with its own future in the European Union, I hope that President Trump’s visit will help to solidify the long friendship between our two great countries.
Lastly, as the president meets with Russian President Putin in Finland, I hope that he will take it as an opportunity to push back against increased Russian aggression toward the West. Under Putin, Russia threatens allies and partners both militarily and Western democratic societies. Moscow has sought to interfere in American elections, propped up the corrupt Assad regime in Syria, assassinated a former Russian spy in the U.K. using a deadly nerve agent and has unlawfully captured the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. And that is not to mention the countless Russian cyberattacks on American institutions, corporations and even many of Utah’s small businesses. It’s for all those reasons and many more that NATO is more important than ever.
As a strong proponent of diplomacy, I believe a meeting between President Trump and President Putin could be a productive one. But I would also encourage the president to exercise caution with Russia — which has proven to be a hostile nation to the United States and our Western allies.