Trump’s statement “undermines our security”
US presidential candidate Trump has caused outrage with his statement that NATO allies who fail to meet their financial obligations will not be protected from Russia. NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg stated that this “undermines our overall security”.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has sharply criticized the statement made by former US President Donald Trump, who said that if re-elected, he would not defend NATO allies who do not fulfill their financial obligations.
“Any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines our overall security, including that of the United States, and puts US and European soldiers at increased risk,” Stoltenberg said in Brussels.
Trump would “even encourage Russia”
Republican US presidential candidate Trump said at a campaign event in the US state of South Carolina on Saturday that he would not provide protection against Russia to NATO partners who do not fulfill their financial obligations.
The “president of a big country” once asked him if the US would still protect that country from Russia even if it did not pay its defense expenses, Trump said. He replied, “No, I would not protect you.” Moreover, he would “even encourage Russia to do whatever the hell they want.” It was unclear if there had ever been such a conversation between Trump and a head of state, as Trump also said, “Let’s assume that happened.”
Sharp criticism from the EU and Poland
The EU and Poland also criticized Trump’s statement. A specific statement from the German government has not been issued so far. The German Foreign Office wrote in English on the messaging service X, without referring to Trump, that the NATO creed of “one for all and all for one” creates security for more than 950 million people.
EU Commissioner Thierry Breton told LCI, a French television channel, that Trump’s attitude was not new. “Perhaps he has memory problems,” he commented on the statements of the 77-year-old former president. “In fact, it was a female president – not of a country, but of the EU,” Breton said, referring to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Breton himself had reported in January about a meeting in Davos in 2020 between Trump and von der Leyen. He quoted Trump as saying, among other things, “By the way, NATO is dead, and we will leave it, we will withdraw from NATO.”
Polish Defense Minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz wrote on X that no election campaign could be used as an excuse to play with the security of the alliance.
White House calls it “appalling and disturbing”
The White House also responded to Trump’s statement. “Encouraging attacks by a murderous regime on our closest allies is appalling and disturbing,” said spokesman Andrew Bates. “It endangers America’s national security, global stability, and our domestic economy.” Instead of calling for wars and promoting “deranged chaos,” US President Joe Biden would “continue to strengthen American leadership,” according to a statement released on Sunday evening. Biden said that Trump’s admission that he intended to give Putin the green light for more war and violence and to continue his brutal attack on a free Ukraine was “appalling and dangerous.”
Most recently, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg dispelled concerns during a visit to Washington that the outcome of the US presidential election could jeopardize the future of NATO. Stoltenberg said in an interview with US broadcaster CNN at the end of January that he had worked with Trump for four years and listened attentively to him. Trump’s main criticism that allies were not spending enough on NATO had been heard. In recent years, they had significantly increased their defense spending.
Trump repeatedly threatened to withdraw from NATO
During his time in the White House from 2017 to 2021, Trump repeatedly threatened to withdraw the US from the defense alliance. As reported by “The Washington Post,” he mentioned during an event in 2022 a meeting where he told NATO partners that he would not abide by the alliance commitment to defense if countries no longer spent on their defense budgets. This may be a reference to Trump’s statement at the NATO Summit in 2018.
The Republican candidate is seeking re-election as president in November and is vying for the nomination in his party’s primaries. He is campaigning, among other things, on a fundamental reevaluation of NATO.
At the campaign event in South Carolina, Trump also reiterated his plan to deport people on a large scale. Irregular immigration is one of the dominant issues in the US election campaign. A common argument on the Republican side is that taxpayer money should not be spent on protecting other countries, such as Ukraine, but rather on securing their own borders.