Ahead of a scheduled bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump on Thursday called on Russia to “cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere” and to end its support for “hostile” governments in Syria and Iran.
Western nations, he added, must also be vigilant against terrorism and keep closed its borders to “those who reject our values, and who use hatred to justify violence against the innocent.”
Trump spoke at Warsaw’s Krasinski Square, near a monument to the Warsaw Uprising, where a crowd waving American and Polish flags repeatedly interrupted his speech to chant "Don-ald Trump." Before his speech, Trump laid flowers at the Warsaw Uprising monument as the crowd shouted "glory to the heroes."
During his speech, the president heaped praise upon Poland as a longtime U.S. ally, holding it up as an example of resilient Western democracy and warning against a trio of threats such democracies face today: terrorism, Russian aggression and “the steady creep of government bureaucracy.”
Of the latter, a threat Trump said “is invisible to some but familiar to the Poles,” Western nations must remember that they “became great not because of paperwork and regulations but because people were allowed to chase their dreams and pursue their destinies.”
“The fundamental question of our time is, whether the West has the will to survive. Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost?” Trump said. “Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?”
The trans-Atlantic alliance between the U.S. and Western Europe is “as strong as ever and maybe, in some ways, even stronger,” Trump said. And while the Soviet Union no longer threatens Europe, Russia continues to loom, the president said.
"Today, the West is also confronted by the powers that seek to test our will, undermine our confidence and challenge our interests," Trump said, perhaps a alluding to Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. "To meet new forms of aggression, including propaganda, financial crimes and cyber warfare, we must adapt our alliance to compete effectively, in new ways and on all new battlefields."
Trump, who conspicuously made no mention of the U.S. commitment to NATO’s mutual defense agreement during a visit to the treaty organization’s headquarters last May, said Thursday that the U.S. has “demonstrated not merely with words, but with its actions that we stand firmly behind Article 5,” the all-for-one, one-for-all collective defense provision. He also praised Poland for its defense spending, an issue on which Trump has been insistent with NATO members.