In Europe Speech, Trump Finally Affirms U.S. Commitment to Defend NATO Allies Under Article 5

In first explicit commitment to Article 5, Trump says 'past time' NATO members 'get going' on their financial obligations

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a speech in Krasinski Square, in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, July 6, 2017
Petr David Josek/AP

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that the United States had demonstrated its commitment to NATO's defense through words and actions, and called on Russia to end its "destabilizing" action in Ukraine and elsewhere in the world. 

Speaking in a highly anticipated speech in Warsaw, Poland, Trump made a reference to Article Five of the NATO treaty, which guarantees that alliance members will defend each other. The mention represented a change of tone from the president, who upset U.S. allies by not mentioning support for the provision during a trip to NATO headquarters in May. 

Trump delivered his address at the 1944 Warsaw Uprising on Krasinski Square, where, echoing a right-wing Polish narrative of World War II, he drew parallels beween Europe's darkest chapter in history and modern-day threats facing the continent.

"A strong Europe is a blessing to the West and to the world," Trump said. "We have to say, there are dire threats to our security and to our way of life. You see what's happening out there. There are threats. We will confront them and we will win.

"America and Europe have suffered one terror attack after another. We are going to get it to stop. We are fighting hardly against radical Islamic terrorism and we will prevail," Trump asserted.

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a keynote speech in Warsaw, Poland. Live Stream TV News / YouTube

In the first half of his speech, Trump touched upon Poland's Jewish victims of World War II. 

"A vibrant Jewish population, the largest in Europe, was reduced to almost nothing after Nazis systematically murdered Polish Jewish citizens, along with countless others during a brutal occupation," Trump said.

Polish Jewish leaders had criticized Trump for not including a stop at a monument for the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in the itinerary of his two-day visit to Poland.

The rebuke by Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich and other community leaders called the absence of a presidential visit to the Monument to the Heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto a “slight.”

In contrast to her father, Ivanka Trump, who is a modern Orthodox Jew, did pay a visit to the monument for the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

"It was a privilege to be able to pay my respects and remember with gratitude those who fought with such tenacity against all odds," the younger Trump wrote on Instagram.

Tensions with Moscow

Trump’s criticism of Russia on Thursday came ahead of his first face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G20 summit in Germany on Friday. 

"We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere and its support for hostile regimes including Syria and Iran, and to instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and the defense of civilization itself," Trump said during his speech at the Warsaw Uprising memorial. 

Earlier in the day, the U.S. agreed to sell Poland Patriot missile defense systems, in a possible message for Moscow.

During a joint press conference Thursday with Polish President Andrzej Duda at Warsaw's Royal Castle, Trump said that the U.S. is working with Poland to address "Russia's destabilizing behavior."

At the press conference, Trump once again urged NATO allies in Europe to spend more on defense. The visit to Poland had been billed as an opportunity for him to patch up relations after a tense alliance summit in May.

The Kremlin rejected Trump's remarks on Thursday and said it disagreed with the U.S. president's assessment of Russia's behavior as "destabilizing."

"We disagree with such an approach," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters. 

Peskov said that the Kremlin also regretted a lack of understanding between Russia and the United States about expectations for their future relations. 

"This is exactly why we are waiting for the first meeting of the two presidents," said Peskov.