February 27, 2024

The frontrunner for the Republican nomination shows no signs of easing hostile stance towards military alliance.

The White House has condemned Donald Trump’s comments suggesting the United States should not help NATO protect allies from a potential Russian attack as “unhinged”.

The former United States president, who appeared to be talking about a previous meeting with NATO leaders during his latest political rally in South Carolina on Saturday, claimed he had spoken with the president of “a big country” about allies rushing to defend each other.

“Well sir if we don’t pay, and we’re attacked by Russia – will you protect us?” he recounted the leader as saying.

“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.”

“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,” said White House spokesperson Andrew Bates.

President Joe Biden, who is seeking re-election in November, has empowered the alliance since taking office in 2021, making sure NATO is now “the largest and most vital it has ever been”, Bates added.

“Rather than calling for wars and promoting deranged chaos, President Biden will continue to bolster American leadership and stand up for our national security interests – not against them,” he said in a statement.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a military alliance of 29 European and two North American countries, has a provision in its statute that says it must defend any member that is attacked.

This is not the first time the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in the upcoming presidential elections has criticised the alliance.

When president, Trump threatened to pull the US out of NATO. He also suggested he could cut Washington’s funding of the organisation, and repeatedly complained that the US pays more than it should.

With the war in Ukraine showing no signs of stopping, concerns have mounted over the ramifications of a potential Trump victory in November.

Kyiv is desperately seeking funding to drive its war effort. The European Union agreed earlier this month to dedicate an additional 50-billion-euro ($54bn) aid package to Ukraine, however, Biden’s bid to win approval for a US aid package is bogged down amid domestic political spats.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg last month said he did not believe a second Trump presidency would jeopardise US membership in the military bloc.

The official, who has been pushing member states to boost military spending, said European allies were increasing their military contributions and “moving in the right direction”.

Since the start of the Ukraine war in February 2022, US aid to Ukraine has totalled around $75bn, according to Stoltenberg, who said other NATO members and partner states combined have provided more than $100bn.

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