EU officials criticize Trump for condoning Russian attacks on NATO allies that don’t pay enough
Two European officials criticized Donald Trump on Sunday after comments the former U.S. president made about not protecting NATO allies who aren’t paying enough from a potential Russian invasion.
EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton was asked in a French television interview about Saturday’s remarks by Trump, who is likely to be the Republican nominee in this year’s U.S. presidential election.
“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.
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.”
NATO chief vows united response to any attack
Any suggestion that NATO allies would not defend each other undermines the alliance’s security and puts U.S. and European soldiers at risk, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement on Sunday.
“Any attack on NATO will be met with a united and forceful response,” he said, reacting to Trump’s comments.
The NATO treaty contains a provision that guarantees mutual defence of member states if one is attacked.
NATO member states have committed to contribute at least two per cent of their GDP annually to defence for the bloc, but not all of them do — in 2023, only 11 of the 31 member states were estimated to meet the two-per-cent threshold. That was an increase from seven countries in 2022, as spending from non-U.S. members grew by an estimated 8.3 per cent last year.
Trump, speaking during a political rally in South Carolina on Saturday 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.”
Comments ‘appalling,’ says White House official
“We have heard that before … Nothing new under the sun,” Breton said.
“He maybe has issues with his memory; it was actually a female president, not of a country, but of the European Union,” he added, referring to EU Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen and a conversation she had with Trump in 2020.
White House spokesperson Andrew Bates, asked about Trump’s comments, said, “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.”