President Biden and NATO leaders on Sunday denounced presidential candidate Donald Trump’s latest comments that he would encourage Russia to invade U.S. allies that don’t contribute sufficiently to military defense.
“NATO remains ready and able to defend all Allies,” said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in a statement. “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. I expect that regardless of who wins the presidential election the U.S. will remain a strong and committed NATO Ally.”
Leaders in Germany and Poland also swiftly criticized Trump’s comments, illustrating how closely top officials are monitoring the U.S. presidential campaign and its implications for a world that is already on edge.
The unusual and immediate responses came after Trump, speaking at a campaign rally in South Carolina on Saturday, said he would encourage Russia to attack NATO countries that don’t pay enough into the alliance.
Trump, invoking a scenario in which a country not paying more were to be attacked by Russia, said, “No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You got to pay. You got to pay your bills.”
Successive U.S. presidential administrations have pushed NATO members to increase their spending to 2% of their GDP, but during his time in the White House, Trump repeatedly pressed the issue publicly, chastising allies for not spending enough. He said, for example, that the U.S. government shouldn’t be expected to rush to the defense of countries that refused to spend enough money to defend themselves.