Former U.S. president Donald Trump pictured throughout a assembly with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at Winfield House, London on Dec. 3, 2019.
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Former U.S. head of state and presidential candidate Donald Trump stoked the ire of U.S. lawmakers and worldwide leaders, after remarking he wouldn’t shield NATO international locations from Russian assaults in the event that they lag on their membership funds.
Speaking at a rally in South Carolina on Saturday, Trump mentioned that, as president, he warned NATO allies that he “would encourage” Russia “to do regardless of the hell they need” to a member nation that did not meet its protection spending tips.
Trump, who has a lengthy historical past of criticizing the transatlantic army alliance, recounted a time when an unspecified president of a NATO member challenged him on his menace to not defend them from a potential Russian invasion in the event that they failed to satisfy NATO’s goal of spending at the very least 2% of their price range on the army.
“You did not pay, you are delinquent … No, I might not shield you. In reality, I might encourage them to do regardless of the hell they need. You bought to pay. You bought to pay your payments,” Trump mentioned.
The U.S. has traditionally had the biggest variety of army personnel out of all NATO international locations, counting 1.35 million troops in 2023, according to Statista.
Trump has been accused of entertaining shut ties with Russia throughout his first presidential mandate. The Kremlin declined to deal with Trump’s remarks.
“I’m nonetheless [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s press secretary, however not Trump’s,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov instructed reporters, based on Reuters.
Top Western officers, as effectively as each Democratic and Republican lawmakers, sharply criticized Trump’s comments. U.S. President Joe Biden, who has additionally declared intentions to run for a second presidential mandate, described Trump’s remarks as “appalling and harmful.”
“Sadly, they’re additionally predictable coming from a man who’s promising to rule as a dictator like those he praises on day one if he returns to the oval workplace,” Biden mentioned Sunday in a assertion.
Trump is vying to clinch Republican backing for his presidential bid on the polls later this yr, going through off former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley.
In an interview with CBS, Haley said Sunday that “the very last thing we ever need to do is facet with Russia.”
She added that the NATO alliance “permits us to stop battle.”
Former Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie additionally criticized Trump’s comments, saying in an interview with NBC News on Sunday that “because of this I’ve been saying for a very long time that he is unfit to be president of the United States.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan (not seen) maintain a joint press convention after the North Atlantic Council assembly held on the NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on February 7, 2024.
Dursun Aydemir | Anadolu | Getty Images
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg mentioned that NATO stands “prepared and ready” to defend all allies and any assault could be met with a “united and forceful” response.
“Any suggestion that allies won’t defend one another undermines all of our safety, together with that of the US, and places American and European troopers at elevated threat,” Stoltenberg mentioned in a assertion.
“I anticipate that no matter who wins the presidential election the US will stay a sturdy and dedicated NATO Ally,” he added.
NATO’s 31 members, which embrace the U.S., Canada, France, Italy, Turkey and the U.Ok., agreed in July final yr to spend at the very least 2% of their gross home product on protection, firming up a earlier purpose.
A report launched by NATO final yr showed solely 11 of the then-30 member alliance had been spending 2% of GDP or extra on protection. The protection spending goal just isn’t a requirement and lots of international locations have sought to ramp up their army spending since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
NATO’s so-called Article 5 mutual protection clause implies that an assault in opposition to one NATO member is taken into account an assault in opposition to all allies.
The European Union’s overseas coverage chief Josep Borrell mentioned Monday that NATO can’t be an “a la carte” army alliance depending on the impulses of the U.S. political management.
“NATO can’t be an ‘a la carte’ army alliance … relying on the humor of the president of the U.S.,” Borrell mentioned when requested to answer Trump’s comments, Reuters reported.
Germany’s Foreign Office on Sunday posted “One for all and all for one” on its English language X social media account, supported by the hashtag “#StrongerTogether.”
Polish Defense Minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz said Sunday by way of X that NATO’s motto of “‘one for all, all for one’ is a concrete dedication.”
“Undermining the credibility of allied international locations means weakening all the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. No election marketing campaign is an excuse for taking part in with the safety of the Alliance,” he added.