Trump’s NATO comments are causing a political storm as Russia remains silent

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Former US President Donald Trump pictured during a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at Winfield House, London on December 3, 2019.

NICHOLAS KAMM | AFP| Getty Images

Former US head of state and US presidential candidate Donald Trump angered US lawmakers and international leaders, after he said he would not protect NATO countries from Russian attacks if they delayed their membership payments .

Speaking 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 they want” to a member country that has not met its defense spending guidelines. .

Trump, who has a long history of criticizing the transatlantic military alliance, referred to a time when an unnamed president of a NATO member challenged him about his threat not to protect them from a possible Russian attack if they don’t meet the NATO spending target anyway. 2% of their budget on the military.

“You didn’t pay, you’re guilty… No, I wouldn’t defend you. In fact, I’d encourage them to do whatever they want. You’ve got to pay. You’ve got to pay your bills, “said Trump.

The US has historically had the largest number of military personnel out of all NATO countries, counting 1.35 million soldiers in 2023, according to Statista.

Trump has been accused of having close ties with Russia during his first presidential term. The Kremlin declined to comment on Trump’s comments.

“I still am [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s press secretary, but not Trump,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, according to Reuters.

Top Western officials, as well as both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, harshly criticized Trump’s comments. US President Joe Biden, who has also announced his intention to run for a second presidential term, described what Trump said as “horrific and dangerous.”

“Sadly, they are also predictable coming from a man who promises to rule like a dictator like the ones he is proposing on day one if he returns to the oval office,” Biden said Sunday in a statement.

Trump is trying to get Republican support for his presidential bid at the polls later this year, against former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley.

In an interview with CBS, Haley said Sunday that “the last thing we ever want to do is side with Russia.”

She said 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 – sit on the United States.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan (not seen) hold a press conference after the North Atlantic Council meeting held at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on February 7, 2024.

Dursun Aydemir | Breath | Getty 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 “unified and strong” response.

“Any suggestion that allies will not protect each other undermines all of our security, including US security, and puts American and European troops at greater risk,” Stoltenberg said in a statement.

“I expect that regardless of who wins the presidential election, the US will remain a strong and committed NATO Ally,” he said.

NATO spending target

How NATO is protecting Eastern Europe

German Foreign Office on Sunday posted “One for everyone and everyone” on his English X social media account, supported by the hashtag “#StrongerTogether”.

Polish Defense Minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz said Sunday via X that NATO’s motto of “‘one for all, all for one’ is a strong commitment.”

“Weakening the credibility of associated countries means weakening the entire North Sea Treaty Organization. No election campaign is an excuse to play with the security of the Alliance,” he said.

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