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Western officials criticize Trump's NATO comments

Published Feb 11, 2024 07:38AM ET Updated Feb 11, 2024 06:08PM ET
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© Reuters. Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as he holds a campaign rally at Coastal Carolina University ahead of the South Carolina Republican presidential primary in Conway, South Carolina, U.S., February 10, 2024. REU

PARIS (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden and top western officials criticized former president Donald Trump on Sunday after he suggested the United States might not protect NATO allies who aren't spending enough on defence from a potential Russian invasion.

"America’s leadership on the world stage and support for our allies is critical to keeping the American people safe here at home," said Biden in a statement.

"If my opponent, Donald Trump, is able to regain power, he is making it clear as day that he will abandon our NATO allies if Russia attacks and allow Russia to 'do whatever the hell they want' with them."

Trump, speaking during a political rally in South Carolina and appearing to recount a meeting with NATO leaders, quoted the president of "a big country" that he did not name as asking, "Well sir, if we don't pay, and we're attacked by Russia - will you protect us?"

"I said: 'You didn't pay? You're delinquent?' He said: 'Yes, let's say that happened.' No I would not protect you. In fact I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You gotta pay."

NATO's 31 members have agreed on a target of spending at least 2% of gross domestic product on defence, but NATO estimates have shown that only 11 are spending that much.

His comments drew a swift rebuke from NATO and U.S. allies.

"Any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security, including that of the US, and puts American and European soldiers at increased risk", said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in a written statement.

"Any attack on NATO will be met with a united and forceful response," he added, reacting to remarks on Saturday by Trump, who is likely to be the Republican nominee in this year's U.S. presidential election.

Polish Defence Minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz also weighed in.

"NATO's motto 'one for all, all for one' is a concrete commitment. Undermining the credibility of allied countries means weakening the entire NATO," he wrote on social media platform X.

"No election campaign is an excuse for playing with the security of the Alliance."

Germany's foreign ministry posted the message 'One for all and all for one' with the hashtag #StrongerTogether on its English language X account following Trump's comments.

EU Council President Charles Michel said: "Reckless statements on #NATO’s security and Art 5 solidarity serve only (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s interest."

Article 5 of the NATO treaty says that an armed attack against an alliance member will be considered an attack against them all, triggering collective self-defence.

Referring to Trump's comments, EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton in an interview with France's LCI television said, "We have heard that before ... Nothing new under the sun."

"He maybe has issues with his memory, it was actually a female president, not of a country, but of the European Union," Breton added, referring to European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen and a conversation she had with Trump in 2020.

"We cannot flip a coin about our security every four years depending on this or that election, namely the U.S. presidential election," Breton said, adding European Union leaders understood the bloc needed to boost its own military spending and capacities.

"President Trump got our allies to increase their NATO spending by demanding they pay up, but Joe Biden went back to letting them take advantage of the American taxpayer," said Jason Miller, Trump's senior campaign advisor.

"When you don’t pay your defense spending you can’t be surprised that you get more war.”

Western officials criticize Trump's NATO comments
 

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Comments (12)
Maximus Maximus
Maximus Maximus Feb 11, 2024 10:00PM ET
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'Any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security, including that of the US..' Stoltenberg is absolutely right.
Maximus Maximus
Maximus Maximus Feb 11, 2024 9:56PM ET
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traitor-trump, russian agent and sycophant to the enemies of America and the West...
Stan Flation
Stan Flation Feb 11, 2024 4:30PM ET
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Trump, 4-8 years ago: "We will build a wall behind us and Mexico, and Mexicans will pay". Demonstrated lie. Now, related to military pays: ""I said: 'You didn't pay? You're delinquent?' He said: 'Yes, let's say that happened.' No I would not protect you. In fact I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You gotta pay.""  Absolutely lier, absolute mad!!!
Mark Jannetty
Mark Jannetty Feb 11, 2024 4:30PM ET
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someone forgot their meds today
First Last
First Last Feb 11, 2024 4:30PM ET
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The US should bill Trump for those useless bits of rusting walls that were built.  Trump can then go bill Mexico himself.
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Feb 11, 2024 4:30PM ET
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You're right, Stan. Unfortunately, there are plenty of people happy to see such chaos take purchase in the US.
First Last
First Last Feb 11, 2024 4:30PM ET
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Mark Jannetty   Maybe Stan was prescribed livestock dewormer from a retrumplican doctor/quack!  ;-)
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Feb 11, 2024 9:26AM ET
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We need to know the causes of Trump's acquiescence to Moscow: What happened in Helsinki when Trump met privately with Putin? What was in the letter Rand Paul hand delivered to Moscow? Why did the 8 GOP members of Congress go to Moscow hoping to meet with Putin on the 4th of July 2018? Why did Jared Kushner want the Russian ambassador in DC to provide him a back channel to Moscow?
First Last
First Last Feb 11, 2024 9:26AM ET
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Putin showed Trump the pee pee tape.
Ken Roth
Ken Roth Feb 11, 2024 8:48AM ET
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EU busy paying 81 billions to help ukraine fight russia who hates america. US busy blocking help to ukraine to help russia…
First Last
First Last Feb 11, 2024 8:48AM ET
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Retrumplicans are "busy blocking help to Ukraine to help Russia".
Mark Jannetty
Mark Jannetty Feb 11, 2024 8:48AM ET
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First Last hopefully they are blocking it. needs to be
First Last
First Last Feb 11, 2024 8:48AM ET
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Mark Jannetty   Yes, if the need is to help Russia.
DB
DB Feb 11, 2024 8:44AM ET
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NATO members all want membership but not bad enough to pay their own way. Demanding all pay equal to their ability is called leadership
First Last
First Last Feb 11, 2024 8:44AM ET
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Trump saying " In fact I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want." is Trump encouraging war crimes to bring hell on Earth.
Ken Roth
Ken Roth Feb 11, 2024 8:42AM ET
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Prefer CNN, MSNBC to local QUANON TV station.
Mark Jannetty
Mark Jannetty Feb 11, 2024 8:42AM ET
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you prefer propaganda
First Last
First Last Feb 11, 2024 8:42AM ET
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Mark Jannetty   Ken didn't say OAN
Mark Gesswein
Mark Gesswein Feb 11, 2024 8:31AM ET
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Man, the TDS sufferers on these boards really should stop watching CNN and MSNBC (aka, fake news). Come out from your bubble, and breath the fresh air of freedom, while you still can.
Ken Roth
Ken Roth Feb 11, 2024 8:31AM ET
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You mean get our world knowledge from local QUANON club….no thanks I prefer to live on planet earth.
First Last
First Last Feb 11, 2024 8:31AM ET
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Dislodge your nose from that orange butt 1st.
Ken Roth
Ken Roth Feb 11, 2024 8:01AM ET
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Like holding Trump accountable for 3 trillion dollar US debt, you mean?
Mark Jannetty
Mark Jannetty Feb 11, 2024 7:55AM ET
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holding countries accountable for their debts is a good thing
Ken Roth
Ken Roth Feb 11, 2024 7:55AM ET
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You have no problem with trump who created a 3 trillion dollar US debt during his presidency…accountability should be for all, not just your opponents.
First Last
First Last Feb 11, 2024 7:55AM ET
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Trump doesn't pay his contractors or lawyers.  Carroll is still waiting for her payments.
 
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