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Trump’s shadow looms over NATO summit, European officials scramble for insights

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As the NATO summit unfolds in Washington this week, European officials are making calculated moves to engage with key figures from former President Donald Trump’s foreign policy team, hinting at a deep-seated anxiety about the potential return of Trump to the Oval Office.

Keith Kellogg, a retired lieutenant general and former chief of staff to Trump’s National Security Council, confirmed to Reuters that he has held closed-door discussions with several high-ranking European officials, including foreign ministers. Although Kellogg remained tight-lipped about the specifics and identities of those involved, the meetings underscore a palpable concern among America’s allies regarding Trump’s possible foreign policy directions.

Kellogg, who maintains regular contact with Trump, was quick to clarify that he does not officially represent the former president or his campaign. However, the European officials’ eagerness to engage with him illustrates an urgent quest for clarity on Trump’s potential foreign policy moves, particularly concerning NATO and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

The prospect of Trump’s re-election has ignited apprehensions across European capitals. Trump’s previous tenure was marked by a contentious stance on NATO, often criticizing member countries for insufficient defense spending. More recently, Trump and his allies have voiced skepticism over further aid to Ukraine, a critical issue as the war with Russia drags on.

Adding to the intrigue, Kellogg shared an image on the social platform X, depicting an “informal discussion” with Ukrainian Parliament Speaker Ruslan Stefanchuk. This post has only fueled speculation about the content of his meetings.

In a significant disclosure from June, Reuters revealed that Kellogg, along with another adviser, had proposed a plan to Trump aimed at resolving the Ukraine conflict. This plan suggested that future U.S. aid to Kyiv could be contingent on Ukraine’s willingness to engage in peace talks with Moscow, a stance that could dramatically shift the geopolitical landscape.

Further stirring the pot, three former Trump foreign policy officials admitted to Reuters that they had been approached by European delegations for meetings during the NATO summit, though logistical challenges prevented these from taking place. These officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, highlighted the discreet yet fervent attempts by European leaders to gauge Trump’s foreign policy intentions.

In a parallel development, North Macedonian Prime Minister Hristijan Mickoski publicly acknowledged a meeting with Richard Grenell, Trump’s former acting director of National Intelligence, sharing a photo of their encounter on Facebook.

This flurry of diplomatic activity reflects a broader strategy among European nations to prepare for all eventualities, including the potential re-election of a president whose foreign policy approach has previously upended traditional alliances and frameworks.

As the NATO summit progresses, the quiet corridors of diplomacy are abuzz with speculation, strategy, and a palpable sense of urgency. European officials are leaving no stone unturned in their quest to decode the signals emanating from Trump’s orbit, acutely aware that the stakes for global security and stability are higher than ever.

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