Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump speaking during a rally at Coastal Carolina University on February 10, 2024 in Conway, South Carolina.

Donald Trump suggested that the US could let Russia attack non-paying NATO countries.The White House said that his suggestion was “appalling and unhinged.”Trump frequently criticized NATO during his presidency.

The White House said former President Donald Trump’s suggestion that the US could let Russia attack non-paying NATO countries is “appalling and unhinged.”

Speaking at a rally in South Carolina on Saturday, Trump recounted an alleged meeting he’d had with NATO leaders in which the president of a “big country” said: “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.”

Trump says he would encourage Russia to attack NATO allies: I said I would not protect our NATO allies. In fact, I would encourage Russia to do whatever the hell they want pic.twitter.com/ak1a3Mtwzq

— Biden-Harris HQ (@BidenHQ) February 10, 2024

In response to Trump’s comments, White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement: “Encouraging invasions of our closest allies by murderous regimes is appalling and unhinged, and it endangers American national security, global stability, and our economy at home.”

“Rather than calling for wars and promoting deranged chaos, President Biden will continue to bolster American leadership and stand up for our national security interests — not against them,” he said.

US M1 Abrams tanks fire during a NATO military exercise in Adazi, Latvia, 2016.

This is important — if there were a second Trump presidency, NATO members fear that President Vladimir Putin’s ambitions for expanding Russian influence over neighboring countries will be encouraged.

NATO is a military alliance comprised of 30 nations formed in the wake of World War II as the US and its allies sought to counter the Soviet Union’s growing influence in Europe and beyond.

It is based on the principle of mutual defense, meaning an attack on one member state is considered an attack on all of them.

As president, Trump frequently criticized NATO and threatened to withdraw from the alliance. He often complained that other countries were not spending enough to support the alliance and that the US was paying more than its fair share. 

In July 2018, for example, Trump tweeted: “Presidents have been trying unsuccessfully for years to get Germany and other rich NATO Nations to pay more toward their protection from Russia. They pay only a fraction of their cost. The US pays tens of Billions of Dollars too much to subsidize Europe, and loses Big on Trade!”

A top European Union official recently revealed that as president, Trump told him the US would “never” help Europe if it was under attack.

Trump’s comments come ahead of the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

The former president has complained about the amount of money the US has sent to non-NATO member Ukraine, which totals around $43 billion. Republicans in Congress have since been blocking a $60 billion funding proposed by the Biden administration.

Trump has also praised Putin for his intelligence and has claimed that if in charge, he could end the conflict in a day, without explaining how he would do so.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg recently warned of widespread implications for Europe if Putin succeeds in Ukraine.

“If Putin wins in Ukraine, there is no guarantee that Russian aggression will not spread to other countries,” Stoltenberg told German newspaper Welt Am Sonntag.

“We have to prepare ourselves for a confrontation that could last decades,” he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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