US aid to Kiev should be in loans because Washington needs to have leverage over countries it helps fund, the ex-president has said
The US should support offer loans and not unconditional aid to Ukraine and other countries it funds, Republican presidential candidate and former US President Donald Trump has said. He also admitted that while president he threatened to not protect NATO allies in case of a Russian attack, if they failed to increase defense spending to 2% of their GDP.
Speaking at a rally in South Carolina on Saturday, Trump slammed a proposed $118 billion security bill, $60 billion of which is earmarked for Ukraine. US lawmakers have struggled for months to approve the measure amid opposition from Republicans, who want to see more done to address the crisis on America’s southern border.
“They want to give like almost $100 billion to a few countries… I said why do we do this? You give it to them as a loan,” he said.
Trump conceded that the money might not be repaid, but suggested that if the recipients “go to another nation” and “drop us like a dog,” then the US could “simply… call the loan.” Ukraine, the former president suggested, “could make a deal with Russia in the next three weeks and all of a sudden they don’t want to deal with us anymore.”
Trump compared the current Ukraine situation to his often tense relations with NATO allies during his time as president. “I did the same thing with NATO. I got them to pay up… NATO was busted until I came along,” he claimed.
According to the former president, when one leader of an unnamed NATO country asked him whether Washington would protect them if they did not increase defense spending and were attacked by Russia, he replied in the negative.
”I said you didn’t pay, you’re delinquent… No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You got to pay your bills,” he said, adding that after that exchange, the money “came flowing.”
White House spokesman Andrew Bates slammed Trump’s remarks on NATO, saying that “encouraging invasions of our closest allies by murderous regimes is appalling and unhinged.”
In December, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow has “no interest… geopolitically, economically or militarily,” in attacking any NATO countries.