NATO leader says Trump put US troops, allies at risk with remarks

Source: The Hill | February 12, 2024 | Miranda Nazzaro

The head of NATO on Sunday argued that former President Trump’s remarks that he “would encourage” Russian aggression toward “delinquent” members of the international alliance put the safety of U.S. troops and their allies at risk.

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

Trump, during a rally in South Carolina last Saturday, said an unidentified foreign leader once questioned him about his threat not to defend members who do not hit the alliance’s defense spending targets.

The former president added that he told the leader he would “encourage” Russia to do whatever it wishes and recounted saying, “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 gotta pay. You gotta pay your bills.”

The remarks drew strong rebuke from top western officials and some of Trump’s political rivals over the weekend.

Polish Defense Minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz, for example, pointed out that a key pillar of NATO is that an attack on one is an attack on all.

“NATO’s motto ‘one for all, all for one’ is a concrete commitment. Undermining the credibility of allied countries means weakening the entire North Atlantic Treaty Organization. No election campaign is an excuse for playing with the security of the Alliance,” Kosiniak-Kamysz wrote in a translated post on X, formerly Twitter.

Germany’s foreign ministry also weighed in without directly calling out Trump’s remarks.

“‘One for all and all for one.’ This #NATO creed keeps more than 950 million people safe – from Anchorage to Erzurum. #StrongerTogether,” the ministry wrote on X.

EU Council President Charles Michel, also without directly mentioning Trump, wrote on X, “The Transatlantic Alliance has underpinned the security and the prosperity of Americans, Canadians and Europeans for 75 years.”

“Reckless statements on #NATO’s security and Art 5 solidarity serve only Putin’s interest. They do not bring more security or peace to the world. On the contrary, they reemphasise the need for the #EU to urgently further develop its strategic autonomy and invest in its defence. And to keep our Alliance strong,” Michel added.


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