February 20, 2024

NATO leader says Trump puts allies at risks by saying Russia can ‘do whatever the hell they want’

The NATO leader warned Sunday that Donald Trump was placing the security of U.S. troops and their allies at danger after the Republican presidential front-runner stated Russia ought to have the ability to do “whatever the hell they want” to alliance members who do not meet their protection spending targets.

Trump’s remarks precipitated deep concern in Poland, a rustic in central Europe that has been underneath Russian management as a rule since the finish of the 18th century. Defense Minister Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz stated “no election campaign is an excuse for playing with the security of the alliance.”

Speaking Saturday at a rally in Conway, South Carolina, Trump recalled how as president he advised an unidentified NATO member that he would “encourage” Russia to do because it needs in instances of NATO allies who’re “delinquent.”

“‘You didn’t pay? You’re delinquent?’” Trump recounted saying. “‘No I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You gotta pay. You gotta pay your bills.’”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated that the 31 allies are dedicated to defending one another.

“NATO remains ready and able to defend all allies. Any attack on NATO will be met with a united and forceful response,” Stoltenberg stated. “Any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security, including that of the U.S., and puts American and European soldiers at increased risk.”

Stoltenberg added in his assertion that he expects that, “regardless of who wins the presidential election, the U.S. will remain a strong and committed NATO ally.”

The German authorities didn’t formally touch upon Trump’s remarks, however the nation’s overseas workplace revealed an announcement Sunday morning mentioning NATO’s precept of solidarity.

“‘One for all and all for one.’ This NATO creed keeps more than 950 million people safe — from Anchorage to Erzurum,” the Foreign Ministry said on X, formerly Twitter.

German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote in an editorial that “if Trump will become U.S. president again, such statements will increase the risk of Putin expanding his war. Europeans can only do one thing to counter this: finally invest in their military security in line with the seriousness of the situation.”

Trump’s feedback had been of specific concern to NATO’s front-line international locations, like Poland and the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, which had been both underneath the management of Moscow or totally included into the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War. Fears there run particularly excessive given Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

While in workplace, Trump had already threatened to not come to the assist of any nation underneath assault that he thought-about owed NATO and the U.S. and was not spending sufficient on protection. His stance destabilized the alliance, significantly international locations with borders near Russia.

Under NATO’s mutual protection clause, Article 5 of its founding treaty, all allies commit assist of any member who comes underneath assault. Article 5 has solely ever been activated as soon as – by the U.S. in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, assaults.

After Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, NATO leaders agreed to halt the protection spending cuts made after the finish of the Cold War and begin shifting towards spending 2% of gross home product on their navy budgets. No nation is in debt to a different, or to NATO.

NATO has undertaken its greatest navy buildup since the Cold War since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.


Cook reported from Brussels. Associated Press author Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin contributed to this report.