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President Joe Biden States NATO Won’t Consider Ukraine Membership Until War With Russia Ends

President Joe Biden was recently interviewed by CNN, where he discussed how Ukraine is not going to be able to get a membership with NATO until the war with Russia ends. 

Biden spoke with Fareed Zakaria of CNN to discuss how the US and its allies in NATO would continue to provide Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky, and his forces the security and weapons needed to end the war with Russia. 

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“I don’t think there is unanimity in NATO about whether or not to bring Ukraine into the NATO family now, at this moment, in the middle of a war,” Biden said

“For example, if you did that, then, you know – and I mean what I say – we’re determined to commit every inch of territory that is NATO territory. It’s a commitment that we’ve all made no matter what. If the war is going on, then we’re all in war. We’re at war with Russia, if that were the case.”

“I think we have to lay out a rational path for Ukraine to be able to qualify to be able to get into NATO,” Biden said, stating that he “refused Russian President Vladimir Putin’s demands before the war for a commitment not to admit Ukraine because the alliance has an open-door policy.”

“But I think it’s premature to say, to call for a vote, you know, in now, because there’s other qualifications that need to be met, including democratization and some of those issues,” Biden said.

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Biden is also gearing up for a weeklong trip to Europe that will include a NATO summit in Lithuania, where the war between Russia and Ukraine, as well as Zelensky’s push for NATO membership, will be discussed. 

Biden also discussed key foreign policy challenges involving China, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, stating that he feels like Chinese President Xi Jinping wants to replace the US as the nation with the largest economy and military capacity in the world, however, he also stated that he believes the US can have a working relationship with Beijing. 

“I think there is a way to resolve, to establish a working relationship with China that benefits them and us,” Biden said. 

“And the last thing I’ll tell you, I also called him after he had that meeting with the Russians about this new relationship, etc. And I said, ‘This is not a threat. It’s an observation.’ I said, ‘Since Russia went into Ukraine, 600 American corporations have pulled out of Russia. And you’ve told me that your economy depends on investment from Europe and the United States. And be careful. Be careful,’” Biden explained.

NATO Russian Flags

NATO Chief Says Ukraine Can Win War With Russia After Finland And Sweden Military Alliance

Ukrainian forces have been able to push back the Russian military around Kharkiv as a part of their counter offense that has caused Russian troops to withdraw from the nation’s second-largest city. 

NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg made a statement on Sunday stating that “Ukraine can win this war” following the news that Finland was applying to join the military alliance. This is a historic move, as Finland traditionally remains neutral. 

Sweden’s President Sauli Niinisto said that “joining the military alliance will maximize Finland’s security after Russia’s unprecedented invasion of Ukraine in February.” 

Sweden is also expected to apply to join NATO, which is likely going to make tensions worse with Russia, who warned last week that it would be taking “retaliatory steps” should Finland join the military alliance. 

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Additionally, Ukraine President Volodymyr Selenskyy took to Twitter to discuss his conversations with International Monetary Fund Director Kristalina Georgieva about receiving financial support for his country. 

Zelenskyy wrote that he and Georgieva “discussed the need for financial support for the Ukrainian economy,” and that they were looking forward to the “further fruitful joint work in maintaining financial stability of Ukraine.” 

Back in April Zelenskyy and Georgieva discussed Ukraine’s economic stability and preparations for post-war reconstruction. 

In a reply to a tweet from Zelenskyy in April, Georgieva said that “continued economic support by Ukraine’s partners is essential to lay the foundations for rebuilding a modern competitive Ukraine.”

In the US, the Lockheed Martin Corporation, one of the nation’s biggest security and aerospace companies, was awarded two contracts worth $309 million for its Javelin missiles. These missiles are anti tank weapons that have helped Ukraine in their fight against Russian invaders. 

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Demand for these missiles has remained high throughout the entire war, but have seen an increase in demand as conditions worsen in Ukraine. The missiles have so far been used to stop Russian tanks from advancing on the capital.

The US has sent more than 5,500 Javelin systems to Ukraine. State Department Counselor Derek Chollet will be leading a delegation group to Moldova, Georgia, and the United Kingdom as a means of furthering their collaborative efforts to help Ukraine. 

Moldova is one of the most vulnerable countries when it comes to the war with Russia. Chollet is planning to meet with government officials in the nation to “reinforce US support for Moldova’s democracy, prosperity, and security.” 

“Chollet will then head to Georgia, where he will meet with government, opposition, and civil society representatives for discussions on Russia’s continuing occupation of parts of Georgia, on the Kremlin’s brutal war against Ukraine, and on how to advance the people of Georgia’s aspirations for a democratic, peaceful, prosperous, and Euro-Atlantic future,” according to the state department.

Chollet will then travel to the UK to discuss the countries’ response to the war in Ukraine and other global security concerns.

World Military Spending Hits $2 Trillion For First Time In History 

In 2021, global military spending hit an all-time high of $2 trillion, according to a report from a leading defense think-tank in Sweden. This also marks the seventh consecutive year that collective spending on the military has increased from the previous year. 

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Ukraine Pushing For Cease-Fire In Talks With Russia As Fighting Continues 

Russian and Ukrainian officials met on Monday as violence continues around the cities involved in the conflict. Ukraine is pushing for an immediate cease-fire and the withdrawal of Russian troops from the country ahead of the talks.

Kyiv is currently coming under attack from heavy Russian shelling. The city has been resistant to invasion with the help of military assistance from countries across the world and global sanction efforts. In addition to the violence, the Russian military has also stated that its nuclear deterrent forces have been put on high alert after Putin’s orders. 

Russian forces are now being accused of carrying out massive shelling and attack operations inside of Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, after graphic videos were posted to social media showing the assault and its devastating aftermath. 

United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said that 102 civilians, including seven children, were killed across Ukraine since Thursday, noting that those figures were likely an underrepresentation of the national death toll. 

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More than half a million of Ukraine’s 44 million citizens have fled the country according to the head of the U.N. refugee agency. Others are being forced to seek shelter inside metro stations and parking garages while missile strikes and gunfire take over the cities. 

A strict 39-hour curfew was in effect in Kyiv this weekend and was lifted this Monday after Russian troops invaded. Residents were able to go out and replenish essential supplies while dodging the violence. 

There’s been a concentrated effort to make Putin pay for the invasion economically as well. Sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies have greatly impacted Russia’s economy. Russia’s central bank kept the stock market closed and raised its interest rate to 20 percent from 9.5 percent in an attempt to improve the plummeting national currency. 

The United States has also announced that it would be expanding sanctions on Russia’s central bank, making it so Americans will be blocked from doing any business with it, and freeze any assets the banks may hold in the U.S.. 

“Russia’s economic reality has changed due to the heavy sanctions, but they were prepared and able to handle the damage,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated. 

Russia has also closed its airspace to airlines from the European Union and several other countries as a means of retaliation for the current ban on travel from Russian planes over its airspace. 

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has stated that he doubted the talks with Russia would actually produce results, but Ukraine’s forces have slowed Russia’s advance and they still hold the capital, Kyiv, and Kharkiv. 

“The bulk of Putin’s ground forces remain more than 30 km [18 miles] to the north of Kyiv. Logistical failures and staunch Ukrainian resistance continue to frustrate the Russian advance,” Britain’s Ministry of Defense said in a post on Twitter Monday morning.

“With the operation moving slower than anticipated, Russia was bringing in more troops, weapons and equipment. They underestimated the resistance they were going to meet and that’s why they’re making less progress,” according to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. 

“Armed with government-issued machine guns, homemade Molotov cocktails and shovels to build barricades, civilians have helped to reinforce their army’s desperate but for now effective resistance. They will soon be joined by prisoners with combat experience who will now be released,” Zelenskyy stated. 

Zelenskyy has stated that Putin is intending to remove Ukraine’s pro-Western government to potentially replace it with a Moscow-friendly regime. Putin also recently issued a directive to increase the readiness of Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces. Russia has thousands of nuclear warheads in its arsenal. 

“The move is reckless and dangerous. There’s no reason for that. NATO is no threat to Russia. Although NATO moved to increase its presence in Eastern Europe in the wake of the Ukraine invasion, it had no intention of becoming involved in the conflict itself. We have a responsibility to make sure that this doesn’t spiral out of control. That will be extremely dangerous,” Stolenberg stated.

Migrants And Troops Gather At Poland-Belarus Border, Heightening Tensions

At the Poland-Belarus border, tensions are escalating by the minute. The stranded group of 3,000-4,000 migrants at the border have made a number of attempts, including three “large scale” endeavors, to breach the frontier over the past week, but were driven back by the force of 15,000 soldiers and border guards Poland mobilized.

Videos released by Polish authorities show migrants, who are forced to endure freezing temperatures that reach below zero throughout the night at their camps, using shovels and wire cutters in order to break through fencing while being fended off with tear gas.

Authorities say several migrants have been found dead at the border, likely due to the weather conditions and lack of food, water, and medical supplies. The crisis is expected to only grow worse over the coming days.

While saying the situation is difficult, Polish Border Guard head Ewelina Szczepańska expressed confidence in Poland’s security to CNN. Poland’s Ministry of Defense noted that the migrants are camped out in the Kuznica region and are being guarded by Belarusian services.

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The Belarus State Border Committee has said that the migrants do not pose any kind of security threat or behave aggressively, and instead wish to enter the country as refugees. According to a Polish Guard spokesman, Belarusian services are responsible for moving large groups of migrants to the border.

Lithuania, which shares a border with Poland and Belarus, has announced its intentions to redeploy troops as well, while also being prepared for “all possible scenarios.”

The European Union (EU), the United States, and NATO have accused Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko of “manufacturing” a migrant crisis on the EU eastern frontier by directing Middle Eastern migrants to Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia in an act of revenge for sanctions over human right abuses. Lukashenko and his regime have denied all accusations, instead blaming the West for their migrant conduct.

These sanctions, along with visa restrictions, were announced by the U.S. Department of State back in August, which not only stated were in regards to the “increased repression and deteriorating human rights situation” that was unfolding in Belarus, but also acknowledged the anniversary of the fraudulent Belarus election that allowed Lukashenko to continue his reign, which started back in 1994.

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According to Reuters, more sanctions are on the way for Belarus. The EU’s 27 ambassadors met Wednesday, agreeing that the massing of migrants on the Poland-Belarus border amounts to “hybrid warfare” and provides a basis for additional sanctions.

Poland’s Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, has accused Vladimir Putin and Russia of being the “masterminds” behind the ongoing crisis, due to its strong support for Lukashenko and Belarus. The Kremlin denied those claims while also flying two nuclear-capable Tu-22M3 bombers over the border Wednesday as a show of strength.

After German police reported an uptick in migrants illegally entering Germany, Poland announced its plans to spend 1.6 billion zlotys ($4.4 million) on building a wall, which would include motion sensors and cameras, on the Belarus border. Poland had previously been building barbed-wire fencing.

Many have criticized Poland of violating the international right for asylum, to which the country replied that their actions are legal. Poland saw 13.3 million immigrants enter the country in 2020, down from 16.6 million in 2019 – which was the highest total the country had dealt with in the past two decades.

American Flag

President Trump Heads to NATO Summit in London

Donald Trump has many issues to be considering at the moment including the US – China Trade War, his impeachment hearing and of course the presidential campaign, so when the chance came for him to be viewed positively on the world stage Trump should have shone.

Instead he was mocked while in London, United Kingdom, lambasted at home and left the NATO summit early, only to have to face his impeachment.

Like many of us, when the going gets tough we want to escape for a while, however, unlike the majority of people, Trump headed for Air Force One and headed to the U.K. and into the welcoming arms of NATO. However on this occasion, those arms were not so welcoming.

Following a video of what looked like other world leaders mocking him at a gathering at Buckingham Palace, President Trump canceled his final news conference, instead opting to fly back to the White House, leaving many wondering if he is still fit to run America.

And after appearing to be snubbed by a member of the Royal Family, it seems the only thing Trump has to look forward to this Christmas is the possibility of being the third president to be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors – Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were both impeached.

The recent NATO summit in London had been billed as the perfect opportunity to showcase his global leadership skills and potentially boost his appeal for his re-election campaign next year. However, after an unpleasant and awkward meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron as well as a “hot-mic” video which showed other world leaders “mocking” him, Mr. Trump decided to cut short his stay and head home.

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But not before Trump called out Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as being “two-faced.”

The issue seemed to arise when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked why Macron and Trudeau were running late for an event with the Queen. Trudeau then seemed to scornfully reply to not only Johnson but also Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands as well as Princess Anne that “he was late because he takes a 40 minute news conference at the top.” Further along the conversation Trudeau also states “you just watch his team’s jaws drop to the floor.” While it is unclear what the responding comments from the other leaders were, they can be seen smiling at his words. Although Trump was never personally mentioned in the now viral video he tweeted:

“The Fake News Media is doing everything possible to belittle my VERY successful trip to London for NATO. I got along great with the NATO leaders!”

He also claimed the credit for encouraging certain countries to increase their spending on military, adding, “No increase for U.S., only deep respect!”

It is a known fact that Trump has never seen an issue with arguing with other world leaders and has often used it to appeal to his Republican base. Antonia Ferrier worked as an aide to Senator Mitch McConnell – Republican of Kentucky – and commented that:

“The president has never been much bothered by shaking up international conventions, so tussling with foreign leaders, by those standards, isn’t a bad thing from his perspective. For many Americans, having their president stand up to foreign leaders is a sign of strength.”

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Unfortunately it was not the first awkward encounter of Trump’s visit. During a public meeting on the same day both Trump and Macron were discussing Islamic State fighters with Macron, telling Trump “let’s be serious” over some of his comments.

Trump had also complained to reporters that he felt the comments Macron had made criticizing America’s seeming disengagement with NATIO as “very very nasty.”

Mr. Trump has always disliked those he perceived to not show him the respect he feels he deserves so these comments have touched an already prickly nerve.

As Trump’s biographer Gwenda Blair says, “Trump doesn’t just want to be in the club, he wants to be the unquestioned leader and center of attention. It had to be both humiliating and infuriating that the other heads of state who were mocking him were untouchable by tweet or insulting nickname, but no doubt he was already calculating the next round of tariffs he would send their way.”

Yet while there appears to be no escape from Trump’s upcoming impeachment hearings he announced he would not be watching them due to being too busy dealing with affairs of state.

The White House has also denied the opportunity to take part in the hearing, suggesting that the Democrats had “rigged” the entire event. However, this did not stop them sending some aides to monitor the proceedings.

While it is clear to many that the hearing will change nobody’s opinions, the House looks set to vote by the end of the year to impeach along party lines, followed by a trial.
Ferrier comments:

“While I wouldn’t say impeachment is a good thing for the president, it is a highly divisive and partisan issue breaking down on party lines. It has not changed people’s minds on the president.

His approval ratings are remarkably consistent, in particular with Republican voters, and he clearly relishes a fight.”

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World Leaders Meet in London for NATO Summit

Countries around the world converged in London for this year’s meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) which has seen spats and disagreements as well as the usual meeting of world leaders. With the number of member nations increasing from 12 to 29 since NATO’s creation in 1949, President Donald Trump has declared America could start trade action with countries he feels are not contributing as much as others.

And although many countries are already, or are nearly, reaching the 2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product contribution for NATO, Trump appeared unhappy, commenting:

“A lot of countries are close and getting closer. And some are really not close, and we may do things having to do with trade. It’s not fair that they get U.S. protection and they’re not putting up their money.”

A planned 70th anniversary celebration summit saw French President Emmanuel Macron and Trump disagree over which way they believe NATO should go in the future. With demands that Europe gives U.S. interests concessions on trade as well as increasing its contribution for defense, Trump has made it clear he is unhappy with some aspects of an organization that has been seen by many to be the most successful pact in military history.

Yet he was full of praise towards the end of the summit after he confirmed his meetings had been successful and that he believes “NATO is in very, very good shape and the relationships with other countries are really extraordinary.”

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While this may be the case between countries, the same cannot be said for the relationships between world leaders. A video of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appears to show him criticizing Trump to a group of other leaders, including Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rute, French President Emmanuel Macron, Britain’s Princess Anne and the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The short clip – which has subsequently gone viral – appears to show Trudeau laughing and gossiping about Trump’s unscheduled press conference. Johnson inquires why Macron is late and Trudeau responds “he was late because he takes a… 40 minute press conference at the top,” while Macron nods his agreement. Although President Trump was not mentioned by name, he has since accused Trudeau of being “two-faced” while Trudeau seemed to be annoyed over remarks made by Trump implying he believes Canada is not keeping up to its financial commitments for NATO.

Trump also criticized Macron after he recently released a statement where he said NATO was dealing with a “brain death” due to a decline in the U.S. leadership, a comment Trump referred to as a “nasty statement.” Yet ‘hot mic’ incidents are becoming more common and Trump himself was caught commenting on his cancelled press conference scheduled for the end of the trip saying:

“Oh, and then you know what they’ll say. ‘He didn’t do a press conference. He didn’t do a press conference.’ That was funny when I said the guy’s two-faced, you know that.”

Trump also took to Twitter to comment on the summit stating that “great progress” has been made at NATO since he became POTUS three years ago.

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Yet there have been many disagreements throughout the summit – particularly in relation to Turkey and terrorism – leading to all members presenting a united front at a golf resort, just outside of London. Posing for a ‘family’ photo, the leaders then headed to a three hour meeting with a statement being released shortly afterwards promising to concentrate on issues of importance including China — who is emerging as a superpower in the world despite it’s trade war with America — and Russia, who still appear to be creating issues.

The statement included:

“Our solemn commitment as enshrined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty that an attack against one Ally shall be considered an attack against us all.”

Trump has also met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with the White House confirming “the two Presidents discussed the importance of Turkey fulfilling its alliance commitments, further strengthening commerce through boosting bilateral trade by $100 billion, regional security challenges, and energy security.”

However, Trump’s comment that nations not hitting their targeted contributions could be resolved “from a trade standpoint,” or adding tariffs to products such as French wine, did not go down well with Macron. France currently contributes 1.9% of their GDP and Trump’s comments prompted him to reply, “it’s not just about money. What about peace in Europe? It’s impossible just to say we have to put money, we have to put soldiers, without being clear on the fundamentals of what NATO should be.”

The pair continued to disagree on further issues including how to deal with Islamic State after U.S. forces were withdrawn from Syria in October — a decision Trump made without discussion with NATO — making it easier for Turkey to target U.S. allied Kurdish militia based in the north of Syria, sparking fears of an increase in IS attacks.

When discussing whether France should be doing more regarding taking captured Islamic State fighters, Trump asked Macron if he wanted “some nice ISIS fighters.” However, Macron argued that the abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops had caused problems claiming “you have more and more of these fighters due to the situation today.”

NATO

Tensions Emerge at NATO Summit

Seventy years after the founding of NATO, a military alliance originally meant to protect western Europe from the Soviet Union, world leaders gathered in London with the intent of discussing policy goals. However, tensions between the various leaders overshadowed this plan, as conflicts between leaders became apparent both during speeches given by these leaders and the conversations they had with each other, some of which was captured by a hot mic and circulated online. President Trump, whom the other leaders appeared to criticize in conversations amongst themselves, abruptly decided to cancel a press conference at the close of the meeting, instead returning to Washington prematurely. As justification for the sudden cancellation, Trump cited the fact that he had already spoken with the media for a substantial period of time. Trump’s sudden decision to abandon the summit speaks to the tensions felt between world leaders with respect to the American president, and ultimately represents a failure of world leaders to see eye-to-eye with Trump.

Tensions arose even before the summit began, as French president Emmanuel Macron declared that the organization had become “brain dead” as a result of American indifference to the military alliance. According to Macron, Europe can no longer rely on the United States to defend NATO allies, as the current administration cannot be trusted. Trump responded to Macron’s incisive comments by calling them “insulting” and “nasty.” Later, Macron said that he stood by his comments.

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NATO’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, addressed the tensions over the meeting, making a call for unity and assuring his audience that NATO was strong and agile enough to overcome these tensions. Stoltenberg then described NATO’s goals for North America and Europe, which include continuing the international fight against terrorism, arms control, fighting Russia, and dealing with the rise of China. Referencing the internal divisions between world leaders who are members of NATO, Stoltenberg pointed out that there has always been differences between world leaders since NATO began, such as disputes about the 1956 Suez crisis and the war in Iraq.

While meeting Trump, Prince Charles appeared to subtly give the American president the middle finger

Things only became more tense as the meeting progressed. Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron held a joint press conference, during which Macron criticized the American president for his handling of the conflict in Turkey and the Islamic State fighters in Syria as well as a developing trade dispute between France and the United States. Macron’s criticism of American leadership led Trump to defend NATO, an unusual position for a president who has spoken at length about his opinion that NATO is outdated and obsolete. Macron also fact-checked Trump in real-time; when Trump claimed that the ISIS prisoners being held in Syria are “mostly from Europe,” Macron responded that they in fact come from Syria and Iraq. Trump responded to these criticisms by appearing to threaten to send ISIS fighters to France, causing Macron to say, “Let’s be serious.” Despite the conflict between the two leaders, the joint conference ended up running long, causing Macron to be late for the next event.

 

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Shortly afterwards, several leaders engaged in a conversation, appearing to gossip about Trump, part of which was captured on a video which generated significant attention online. During this conversation, which included Macron as well as English Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. During the brief portion of the conversation which has become publicly available, Johnson asks Macron why he was late, leading Trudeau to make a comment about Trump’s excessively long press conferences. Apparently referencing Trump, Trudeau commented that “you just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor.” Though Trump’s name was not mentioned during this portion of the conversation, it was clear to many observers that the person these leaders were discussing was President Trump. While Johnson denied having participated in this conversation about the American president, Trudeau confirmed that he had in fact discussed Trump with others, clarifying that his comment about his team’s jaws dropping was a reference to the President’s decision to host the G7 summit at Camp David. After the video circulated online, Trump fired back against Trudeau, calling him “two-faced,” later adding that he thought he was “very dishonest and weak.”

Tensions between the leaders also arose in more subtle ways. While meeting Trump, Prince Charles appeared to subtly give the American president the middle finger, though the gesture may have been unintentional. Trump also left Johnson and Stoltenberg waiting for nearly six minutes on stage at the beginning of the meeting, as he arrived late. And when Macron shook Melania Trump’s hand, he used both hands and lingered for a moment, which was perceived by some as a power play against Trump. Though the interaction between the two is minor, Trump has been known to use somewhat aggressive body language in his interactions with others, leading other world leaders to develop strategies for handling this quirk. While trying to read the intentions of others based on their body language is not entirely reliable, there exist a countless number of examples of how the tensions between leaders of the world right now manifest in various ways, many of which transpired during this year’s NATO meeting.