President Trump questions 'will' of Western survival, calls out Russia in Poland speech

WARSAW, July 6 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump affirmed U.S. commitment to the defense of NATO allies on Thursday in a Warsaw speech that gently criticized Russia, and said Western civilization must stand up to those "who would subvert and destroy it."

In his second trip to Europe as president and shortly before leaving for a potentially fractious G20 meeting in Germany, Trump appeared to want to soothe U.S. allies after unnerving them in May by failing to endorse the principle of collective defense enshrined in Article Five of the NATO treaty.

As a presidential candidate, Trump called NATO obsolete, but he has since changed his position on the alliance's relevance.

The president also had tough words for Russia on Thursday, though he did not fully endorse allegations, backed by U.S. intelligence agencies, that Moscow interfered in the 2016 presidential election that he won.

Trump meets President Vladimir Putin for the first time face-to-face on Friday in Hamburg, the site of the G20 summit.

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WARSAW, POLAND JULY 05: (SOUTH AFRICA AND POLAND OUT): Arrival of the President of the United States Donald J. Trump and the First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Melania Trump on July 05, 2017 in Warsaw, Poland. The US President arrives at Warsaw Chopin Airport at Military Airport Terminal. (Photo by Karol Serewis/Gallo Images Poland/Getty Images)
WARSAW, POLAND - JULY 05: US President Donald Trump (not seen) and his wife Melania Trump are being welcomed during an official welcoming ceremony after they left presidential plane Air Force One at Chopin Airport, Warsaw, Poland on July 05, 2017. (Photo by Omar Marques/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
WARSAW, POLAND - JULY 05: US President Donald Trump (R) and his wife Melania Trump (L) leave the presidential plane Air Force One as they arrive at Chopin Airport, Warsaw, Poland on July 05, 2017. (Photo by Omar Marques/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (L) and US First Lady Melania Trump (R) react after stepping off Air Force One upon their arrival at Chopin Airport in Warsaw,on July 5, 2017. Donald Trump arrived for high-stakes visit to Europe on July 5, landing in Poland ahead of his first G20 summit in Hamburg and a closely-watched meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The still-novice US president begins a four-day swing through Warsaw and Hamburg, where tricky geopolitical currents -- from rumbling transatlantic discord to the North Korean nuclear threat -- will converge. / AFP PHOTO / Wojtek Radwanski (Photo credit should read WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive on Air Force One at Warsaw Chopin Airport in Warsaw, Poland, July 5, 2017, as they begin a 4-day trip to Poland and Germany. Donald Trump embarks on a high-stakes visit to Europe, where he will attend his first G20 summit and hold a closely watched meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WARSAW, POLAND - JULY 05: US President Donald Trump (R) and his wife Melania Trump (L) leave the presidential plane Air Force One as they arrive at Chopin Airport, Warsaw, Poland on July 05, 2017. (Photo by Omar Marques/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump walk with Hamburg's Mayor Olaf Scholz as they arrive for the G20 leaders summit in Hamburg, Germany July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump in Krasinski Square, in Warsaw, Poland, 06, July, 2017 (Photo by Krystian Dobuszynski/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
HAMBURG, GERMANY - JULY 06: U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive at Hamburg Airport for the Hamburg G20 economic summit on July 6, 2017 in Hamburg, Germany. Leaders of the G20 group of nations are meeting for the July 7-8 summit. Topics high on the agenda for the summit include climate policy and development programs for African economies. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. First Lady Melania Trump applaud next to Poland's President Andrzej Duda and Poland's first lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda in Krasinski Square, in Warsaw, Poland, 06, July, 2017 (Photo by Krystian Dobuszynski/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
WARSAW, POLAND JULY 06: (SOUTH AFRICA AND POLAND OUT): Departure of the President of the United States Donald J. Trump and the First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Melania Trump from Poland on July 06, 2017 in Warsaw, Poland. The US President visits Poland en route to a Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. (Photo by Maciej Gillert/Gallo Images Poland/Getty Images)
First Lady Melania Trump is pictured during a meeting with Polish President's wife Agata Kornhauser-Duda (Unseen) at the Belvedere Palace in Warsaw on July 6, 2017. US President Donald Trump is on his first visit behind the former Iron Curtain. He is expected to focus largely on defence in talks with Baltic, Balkan and central European leaders. / AFP PHOTO / ANDRZEJ HULIMKA (Photo credit should read ANDRZEJ HULIMKA/AFP/Getty Images)
WARSAW, POLAND JULY 05: (SOUTH AFRICA AND POLAND OUT): Arrival of the President of the United States Donald J. Trump and the First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Melania Trump with their family on July 05, 2017 in Warsaw, Poland. The US President arrives at Warsaw Chopin Airport at Military Airport Terminal. (Photo by Karol Serewis/Gallo Images Poland/Getty Images)
Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, senior advisor of President Donald Trump, arrive aboard Air Force One at Warsaw military airport in Warsaw, Poland July 5, 2017. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh
The daughter of US President Donald Trump Ivanka Trump (R) and her husband White House senior advisor Jared Kushner make their wave from Air Force One to Marina One upon arrival at the airport in Hamburg, northern Germany on July 6, 2017. Leaders of the world's top economies will gather from July 7 to 8, 2017 in Germany for likely the stormiest G20 summit in years, with disagreements ranging from wars to climate change and global trade. / AFP PHOTO / dpa / Bernd Von Jutrczenka / Germany OUT (Photo credit should read BERND VON JUTRCZENKA/AFP/Getty Images)
The daughter of US President Donald Trump Ivanka Trump (R) and her husband White House senior advisor Jared Kushner make their wave from Air Force One to Marina One upon arrival at the airport in Hamburg, northern Germany on July 6, 2017. Leaders of the world's top economies will gather from July 7 to 8, 2017 in Germany for likely the stormiest G20 summit in years, with disagreements ranging from wars to climate change and global trade. / AFP PHOTO / dpa / Bernd Von Jutrczenka / Germany OUT (Photo credit should read BERND VON JUTRCZENKA/AFP/Getty Images)
Ivanka�Trump and White House senior advisor Jared Kushner arrive for the G20 leaders summit in Hamburg, Germany July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt
Ivanka Trump and White House senior advisor Jared Kushner listen to U.S. President Donald Trump's public speech at Krasinski Square, in Warsaw, Poland July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Ivanka Trump and White House senior advisor Jared Kushner listen to U.S. President Donald Trump's public speech at Krasinski Square, in Warsaw, Poland July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Ivanka Trump and White House senior advisor Jared Kushner arrive accompanying the U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump (not pictured) at Warsaw Chopin Airport in Warsaw, Poland, July 5, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, senior advisor of President Donald Trump, arrive aboard Air Force One at Warsaw military airport in Warsaw, Poland July 5, 2017.
Ivanka Trump (1st-L) steps off Air Force One upon arrival at Chopin Airport in Warsaw, on July 5, 2017. Donald Trump arrived for high-stakes visit to Europe on July 5, landing in Poland ahead of his first G20 summit in Hamburg and a closely-watched meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The still-novice US president begins a four-day swing through Warsaw and Hamburg, where tricky geopolitical currents -- from rumbling transatlantic discord to the North Korean nuclear threat -- will converge. / AFP PHOTO / Wojtek Radwanski (Photo credit should read WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
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"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," he said.

The Kremlin said Russia was not guilty of any destablizing activity.

The brief visit to Warsaw, to take part in a regional summit, was billed by the White House as an effort to patch up relations with European allies after a tense NATO summit in May.

Trump was received by enthusiastic crowds on a central Warsaw square, some 15,000 people according to police estimates, many arriving on busses organized by ruling party members of parliament from around Poland.

Trump reiterated his previous criticism of low defense spending levels by many European nations and praised Poland for meeting the alliance's target of spending two percent of economic output on defense.

"To those who would criticize our tough stance, I would point out that the United States has demonstrated not merely with words but with its actions that we stand firmly behind Article 5, the mutual defense commitment," he said to applause.

"Words are easy, but actions are what matters...Europe must do more."

Article five of NATO's 1949 founding charter states that an attack on any member is an attack on all, and allies must render assistance, military if need be.

The stopover was a major diplomatic coup for Poland's conservative government, which has faced mounting criticism from Brussels over its democratic record and a refusal to accept migrants fleeing war in the Middle East.

The administration agrees with Trump on issues such as migration, climate change and coal mining and wants EU institutions to give back some of their powers to national governments.

QUESTION OF SURVIVAL

"We've discussed our mutual commitment to safeguarding the values at the heart of our alliance: freedom, sovereignty and the rule of law," Trump said in a joint press conference after meeting Polish President Andrzej Duda.

In what was likely veiled criticism of the European Union, Trump condemned "the steady creep of government bureaucracy" and cited the importance of national sovereignty.

In his speech at a central square that commemorates the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, the president painted the fight against terrorism, illegal immigration and excessive government powers as an existential one.

"The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive...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?" he asked.

RELATED: President Donald Trump meeting other world leaders

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) is greeted by greets U.S. President Donald Trump in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 13, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump pose for a photograph before attending dinner at Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., February 11, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump looks down at a bust of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill while meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 27, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint news conference with U.S. President Donald Trump (R) at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 15, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, left, speaks with U.S. President Donald Trump, during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, March 17, 2017. Merkel, who is running for a fourth term in Germanys election in September, plans to explain her view of the mutual advantages of free trade during her talks with Trump on Friday, according to German officials. Photographers: Pat Benic/Pool via Bloomberg
King Abdullah II of Jordan, left, looks towards U.S. President Donald Trump after shaking hands during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, April 5, 2017. The talks with the Jordanian monarch are expected to focus on other regional issues, including Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump, right, shakes hands with Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Egypt's president, during a meeting inside the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, April 3, 2017. Trump�said Monday his buildup of the U.S. military would help El-Sisi�fight terrorism as the two met at the White House for their first summit of the Trump presidency. Photographer: Olivier Douliery/Pool via Bloomberg
US President Donald Trump meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi in the Oval Office in the White House on March 20, 2017, in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / MOLLY RILEY (Photo credit should read MOLLY RILEY/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) walk together at the Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida, April 7, 2017. President Donald Trump entered a second day of talks with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Friday hoping to strike deals on trade and jobs after an overnight show of strength in Syria. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump meets Prime Minister Lokke Rasmussen of Denmark outside the West Wing of the White House March 30, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump is hosting Prime Minister Rasmussen with an Oval Office meeting. (Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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European and other G20 partners have a view of Western values that does not align with Trump's. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has allowed scores of Syrian refugees into her country, drawing both criticism and praise, and has made fighting global warming a top priority at the summit.

Trump's has decided to pull the United States out of the Paris accord on climate change.

While agreeing that they need to put money into collective defense, European leaders took umbrage at Trump's tone and message in Brussels on his first trip there as president.

Duda for his part said he believed Trump took Poland's security seriously.

In Warsaw, Trump was also meeting other central European leaders as well as heads of state from the Balkans and Baltic states, gathered for a so-called Three Seas summit of countries on the Baltic, Black and Adriatic seas. (Writing by Jeff Mason and Justyna Pawlak; Editing by Ralph Boulton)

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