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EU and Nato leaders criticise Trump over threat to 'encourage' Russian attacks on allies

A White House spokesperson called Trump’s remarks “appalling and unhinged”.


FORMER US PRESIDENT Donald Trump has said at a campaign rally that he would “encourage” Russia to attack members of Nato who had not met their financial obligations.

As US lawmakers debate new aid for Ukraine nearly two years after Russia’s invasion began, Trump has repeatedly expressed his belief that it is unfair to commit the US to defending Nato’s 30 other member nations — a core principle of the military alliance.

Speaking at a campaign rally in South Carolina yesterday, Trump described a conversation with a fellow head of state at a Nato meeting.

“One of the presidents of a big country stood up and said, ‘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? 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.’”

Article 5 of Nato stipulates that if a member country is victim of an armed attack, each member of the alliance must consider the act as an attack against the whole group and take measures to provide aid to the country under threat.

Responding to Trump’s remarks, Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg warned against talk that ”undermines security”.

“Any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security, including that of the US,” Stoltenberg said.

European Council President Charles Michel said that “reckless” comments serve the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The Transatlantic Alliance has underpinned the security and the prosperity of Americans, Canadians and Europeans for 75 years,” Michel said, adding: “Reckless statements on Nato’s security and solidarity serve only Putin’s interest.” 

The White House also took aim at Trump, pointing to what it described as efforts by President Joe Biden to build international alliances.

“Encouraging invasions of our closest allies by murderous regimes is appalling and unhinged,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement.

“Rather than calling for wars and promoting deranged chaos, President Biden will continue to bolster American leadership,” Bates added.

Trump’s statements come after Senate Republicans rejected a bipartisan bill on Wednesday that would have included badly needed new funding for Ukraine and reforms to address the US-Mexico border crisis, as well as aid for Israel, which the US supports. 

At the rally yesterday, Trump celebrated the collapse of the legislation and said that if he was re-elected, he would conduct a “deportation operation” on his first day in the White House.

“On day one I will terminate every open border policy of the Biden administration and we will begin the largest domestic deportation operation in American history. We have no choice,” he said.

The Senate is now considering a foreign aid package that would decouple the aid from the border policy reform.

The $95 billion package is due to be debated next week. The majority of the funding would go towards supporting Ukraine to restock depleted ammunition supplies, weapons and materials, with the remainder earmarked for Israel and for Taiwan.

Despite its financial support for Israel, the US has warned the country against launching a ground offensive on the city of Rafah, where more than a million displaced Palestinians are trying to take shelter from the fighting and are living in dire conditions.

Additional reporting by AFP

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