The presidential candidate has renewed his verbal attack on low-spending members of the military bloc
The rest of NATO needs to send as much aid to Ukraine as the US does, Donald Trump has argued, days after claiming he once threatened to withhold military protection from European nations that fail to “pay [their] bills”.
Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail was in line with his NATO-skeptic stance during his term in the White House. After those remarks, the bloc’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg accused the politician of putting “American and European soldiers at increased risk” by questioning NATO’s mutual defense guarantee.
The GOP frontrunner returned to the NATO issue on Monday on social media, bragging about twisting the arms of allies during his term in office.
“When I told the 20 Countries that weren’t paying their fair share that they had to PAY UP, and said without doing that you will not have U.S. Military Protection, the money came rolling in,” Trump’s post on his Truth Social platform read. “It was a beautiful sight to see.”
“NATO HAS TO EQUALIZE, AND NOW. THEY WILL DO THAT IF PROPERLY ASKED,” he added in all caps, referring to the Ukraine aid.
The trans-Atlantic alliance has 31 member states, only two of which are located in North America. North Macedonia joined on Trump’s watch in 2020 as the 30th ally.
The organization recommends that each country spend at least 2% of GDP on military purposes. Some of the wealthiest members, including Germany, France and Italy, have failed to meet the target for decades.
EU nations did ramp up their military spending during Trump’s presidency as tensions with Russia escalated, something he has claimed as a personal diplomatic achievement.
Speaking on Saturday at a rally in South Carolina, Trump recalled an encounter during his presidential term, when he supposedly told a European leader that unless that nation met the spending threshold, the US would consider it “delinquent” and not defend it in the event of a Russian attack.
“In fact I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You’ve gotta pay,” he recalled telling the ally.
Biden’s White House called the remarks “appalling and unhinged”.
Russia denies having any aggressive intentions regarding NATO, despite considering it a hostile organization subservient to US interests. President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with Tucker Carlson last week that claims to the contrary by Western politicians are meant “to intimidate their own population with an imaginary Russian threat”.