With the established global order on shaky footing, President Donald Trump's weeklong trip to Europe will test already strained bonds with some of the United States' closest allies, then put him face to face with the leader of the country whose electoral interference was meant to help put him in office.
"I like Boris Johnson, I've always liked him".
Trump, who later arrived at NATO's new billion-dollar headquarters in his presidential limousine, appeared to substantially overstate German reliance on Russian energy and to imply the German government was funding the pipeline, which Berlin says is a commercial venture.
For U.S. President Donald Trump, a summit with Vladimir Putin risks a political backlash at home and overseas.
Days after their meeting in Brussels, Trump plans to sit down with Putin for their first one-on-one summit, a meeting in Helsinki, that could be more cordial, further straining the long-standing military alliance. Member countries contribute part of their wealth toward defense spending - but Trump says that recently, allies aren't paying their fair share.
Carefully-choreographed sessions and the leaders' dinner in a Brussels museum on Wednesday night are unlikely to mollify Trump, NATO diplomats say, as they found out to their dismay in May previous year at a special dinner to welcome the president.
Trump's tweets would likely set a combative tone for the upcoming meetings.
President Donald Trump's four-nation European tour has allies fretting over the risk of damage he could do to the decades-old North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance. In a tweet Tuesday, he said: "Will they reimburse the US?"
President Trump, who flew into the Belgian capital on Tuesday evening, is angry that the United States is paying a disproportionate amount in defence spending.
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TRUMP: "Germany is a captive of Russian Federation because they supply (energy)".
Although administration officials point to the long-standing alliance between the United States and the United Kingdom, Trump's itinerary will largely keep him out of central London, where significant protests are expected. "They're going to up it at levels that they never thought of before", Trump said, adding that "now we're very happy".
But European Council President Donald Tusk was more direct in anticipating that Trump may have designs on sowing discord, delivering a stinging warning to the visiting Americans president.
"We're supposed to protect you against Russian Federation but they're paying billions of dollars to Russian Federation and I think that's very inappropriate", Trump said, repeatedly describing Germany as "captive to Russia" because of the energy deal. "The transatlantic bond is not one, there are many ties, some of them have been weakened".
Trump and Merkel later held businesslike talks on the sidelines. Trump said it could be the easiest meeting of the trip.
Trump's aides seated around the table, including chief of staff John Kelly and the US ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, looked visibly uncomfortable at points.
On CNN's "New Day", host John Berman asked if King, an independent senator from ME, believes Trump is playing into Putin's hands by distancing the U.S. from its allies.
". Vladimir Putin will give a real master class to the inexperienced politician Donald Trump", he said.
Mr Johnson, the New York Jets American football team owner who was appointed United Kingdom ambassador in August a year ago, took a more conciliatory approach on Wednesday.
But experts say the United States can not force any allies into spending more, no matter how much the president balks.