Another week, another seemingly crazy comment made by former President Donald Trump. This time, Trump made some truly concerning comments about Russia and Nato, sparking massive backlash.
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This comes after Putin agreed to a rare interview last week which aired on Thursday 8 February. Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson flew to Moscow for a highly anticipated exclusive with the Russian President, during which they discussed the Russian leader’s plans for the war in Ukraine. The interview also caused concerns over Putin’s health, but most were focused on his words as a brutal world leader.
Just days after this interview came out, on Saturday (10 February), Trump was at a rally in South Carolina. Speaking to the crowd, he had some very incendiary comments to make. Here’s what he said, and how people have reacted.
Trump’s comments about Nato
Trump told the crowd a story about how the leader of a ‘big country’ asked him, hypothetically, how he would react if that nation didn’t meet its financial obligations within Nato and came under attack from Russia. Focusing on the first part of the question, Trump says he called the leader a ‘delinquent’, then he continued:
No I would not protect you, in fact I would encourage them to do whatever they want. You gotta pay.
The United States is one of Nato’s founding members, and Article 5 of the mutual assistance agreement states that ‘the Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all’ - and that all member states would therefore come together to defend the attacked country.
Reactions to Trump’s words
A Whitehouse spokesperson has commented on the former POTUS’s words, calling Trump’s behaviour ‘appalling and unhinged’. He said Trump was ‘encouraging invasions of our closest allies by murderous regimes’ and that his statement ‘endangers American national security, global stability and our economy at home’.
Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg responded to Trump’s comments on Sunday:
Any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security, including that of the US, and puts American and European soldiers at increased risk.
This is not the first time that Trump has called Nato’s validity into question: he deems it an unnecessary financial burden on the US to provide protection to 30 other nations.
Nato’s financial obligations
Dr Patrick Bury, a defence and security expert and former Nato analyst, spoke to the BBC about Trump’s comments. He explained that Trump was making reference to the fact that some European Nato members are failing to a certain requirement; namely, that Nato countries spend 2% of their budget on the military. Though Bury agrees that it is right to ‘play hardball’ with Nato allies, he suggests that ‘it all depends on how far you go’:
These comments are too far, really.
If Trump is in the White House and there was a split in Nato either over Ukraine... or about how it would respond to a small incursion that should in theory trigger article five. That's where the Nato alliance is worried are these what-ifs.
Trump is up against Joe Biden in the race for President, and many Americans are concerned that neither candidate is solid. Trump’s mental stability has been called into question several times over the years, most recently by opponent Nikki Haley. Meanwhile, Biden's faulty memory and gaffe-prone speeches have many worried that he's too old to remain in the game.
The Sun: TRUMP'S NATO BLITZ Donald Trump stuns US allies by warning he would ‘encourage’ Russia to attack Western nations
BBC: Trump says he would 'encourage' Russia to attack Nato allies who do not pay their bills