Former US President Donald Trump pictured during a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at Winfield House, London, December 3, 2019.
NICOLAS KAMM | AFP | fake images
Former US head of state and presidential candidate Donald Trump stoked the ire of US lawmakers and international leaders after saying he would not protect NATO countries from Russian attacks if they fell behind on their membership payments.
At a rally in South Carolina on Saturday, Trump said that as president, he warned NATO allies that he would “encourage” Russia “to do whatever it wants” to a member country that did not meet its spending guidelines in defending. .
Trump, who has a long history of criticizing the transatlantic military alliance, recounted a time when an unspecified president of a NATO member challenged him over his threat not to defend them from a possible Russian invasion if they did not meet the goal of NATO to spend at least 2% of its budget for the army.
“You didn’t pay, you’re a criminal… No, I wouldn’t protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever they want. You have to pay. You have to pay your bills,” Trump said. .
The United States has historically had the largest number of military personnel of any NATO country, with 1.35 million troops in 2023, according to Statista.
Trump has been accused of maintaining close ties with Russia during his first presidential term. The Kremlin declined to address Trump’s comments.
“I remain press secretary for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, but not for Trump,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, according to Reuters.
Senior Western officials, as well as Democratic and Republican lawmakers, sharply criticized Trump’s comments. US President Joe Biden, who has also declared his intentions to run for a second presidential term, described Trump’s comments as “appalling and dangerous”.
“Sadly, they are also predictable coming from a man who promises to govern like the dictator he praises on day one if he returns to the Oval Office,” Biden said in a statement Sunday.
Trump is vying for Republican support for his presidential bid at the polls later this year, facing off against former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley.
In an interview with CBS, Haley said Sunday that “the last thing we want to do is side with Russia.”
He added that the NATO alliance “allows us to prevent war.”
Former Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie also criticized Trump’s comments, saying in an interview with NBC News on Sunday that “this is why I’ve been saying for a long time that he’s not fit to be president of the United States.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan (not seen) hold a joint press conference following the North Atlantic Council meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, February 7, 2024.
Dursún Aydemir | Anatolia | fake images
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said NATO is “ready and able” to defend all allies and that any attack would be met with a “united and forceful” response.
“Any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security, including that of the United States, and puts American and European soldiers at greater risk,” Stoltenberg said in a statement.
“I hope that regardless of who wins the presidential election, the United States will remain a strong and committed NATO ally,” he added.
NATO’s spending target
NATO’s 31 members, which include the United States, Canada, France, Italy, Turkey and the United Kingdom, They agreed in July last year to spend at least 2% of their gross domestic product on defense, reaffirming an earlier goal.
A report released by NATO last year showed that only 11 of the alliance’s then-30 members spent 2% of GDP or more on defense. The defense spending target is not a requirement and many countries have sought to increase their military spending since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
The so-called mutual defense clause of NATO Article 5 means that an attack against one NATO member is considered an attack against all allies.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Monday that NATO cannot be an “à la carte” military alliance dependent on the impulses of the American political leadership.
“NATO cannot be an ‘à la carte’ military alliance…depending on the mood of the president of the United States,” Borrell said when asked to respond to Trump’s comments, Reuters reported.
The German Foreign Ministry on Sunday aware “One for all and all for one” on their English-language X social media account, supported by the hashtag “#StrongerTogether.”
Polish Defense Minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz saying Sunday via X that NATO’s motto of “‘one for all, all for one’ is a concrete commitment.”
“Undermining the credibility of allied countries means weakening the entire North Atlantic Treaty Organization. No electoral campaign is an excuse to play with the security of the Alliance,” he added.