Donald Trump has once again vowed not to defend any NATO country that fails to meet its defense spending targets should he return to the White House.
The statement, delivered at a rally in South Carolina on Wednesday, served as a doubling down on a statement he delivered days earlier.
There, the 77-year-old, who notably refused to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin during his 2016 campaign, said he would urge Russia to “do whatever it wants” if it attacked a non-paying alliance member. the fair share of it.
The statement seemed to provoke a response from the Russian leader himself, who on Wednesday praised Joe Biden as a more reliable – and “predictable” – alternative.
This time, the famously mercurial GOP front-runner was a little less divisive with his rhetoric, but he still held his ground. He also mentioned Putin’s now widely seen interview in which he simply stated that the dictator was “not a fan” of his.
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Trump brought up Putin’s now widely viewed interview, simply stating that the dictator was “not a fan” of him.
The statement also prompted a response from the Russian leader himself, who on Wednesday praised Joe Biden as a more reliable – and “predictable” – alternative to the outspoken Republican.
‘Look, if they are not going to pay, we are not going to protect. OK?’ He told a lively crowd in North Charleston that NATO nations were not living up to his burden, this time omitting the statement that he suggested he didn’t care at all if Russia attacked them.
He went on to mention Joe Biden, who has pushed tirelessly for a foreign aid package to help Ukraine in its fight against the ongoing Russian invasion.
Trump said Wednesday that he still opposes such aid and said it should come in the form of a loan.
‘Why should you just hand it to him?’ she said, immediately earning a scathing response from the White House.
“Donald Trump just gave Vladimir Putin the best possible Valentine’s Day gift,” a Biden spokesperson’s statement insisted: a “de facto promise to give Putin the green light to take down our allies in Europe if elected.”
That barb came on top of another insult from Biden over the weekend, in which he called Trump’s comments about the North Atlantic Alliance “dangerous,” “un-American” and “shocking.”
Biden has also continued to push for a permanent foreign aid package, having injected the distant country with more than $75 billion in aid.
Another $95 billion, to be split between Ukraine and Israel, was approved Tuesday by the Republican-dominated Senate, lighting a fire under Trump after his earlier comments about NATO in Conway, South Carolina, on Saturday.
‘Look, if they are not going to pay, we are not going to protect. OK?’ He spoke to a lively crowd in North Charleston about nations not carrying his weight, this time omitting the statement that he suggested he didn’t care at all if Russia attacked them.
He went on to mention Joe Biden, who has pushed tirelessly for a foreign aid package to help Ukraine in its fight against the ongoing Russian invasion. He also mentioned Putin’s now widely seen interview in which he simply stated that the dictator was “not a fan of his.”
Hours earlier, Putin – in his first comments on the impending US election – described Biden, 81, as a more reasonable choice, saying: “He’s a more experienced person, he’s predictable, he’s an old-style politician.” after being asked a question about the mental acuity of the head of state
Putin, 71, in turn praised Biden’s presence of mind during their last meeting, in Geneva three years ago, seven months before he suddenly invaded Ukraine.
Trump thus revised his previous comments about Putin in North Charleston on Wednesday, after billing him so hard and somewhat under his control.
Instead, citing the interview Putin gave on Russian state television on Wednesday, he described the relationship between the two as cold, after the Kremlin chief said he would prefer Biden as president.
Trump said that Putin, in praising Biden, “just paid me a huge compliment.” That’s good.’
Hours earlier, Putin, in his first comments on the impending US election, described Biden, 81, as a more reasonable choice.
“He is a more experienced person, he is predictable, he is an old-style politician,” Putin said, after being asked about the mental acuity of his fellow head of state.
Putin, 71, in turn praised Biden’s presence of mind during their last meeting, in Geneva three years ago.
“Even then there was talk that he was not competent, but I didn’t see any of that,” he recalled about the G7 summit in June 2021.
‘Yes, he looked at his notes, but I looked at mine too. Was nothing.’
Within seven months, Putin would use the Russian military to invade Ukraine, in a war that, as of this writing, has no end in sight.
Pictured: A graph showing which NATO countries in Europe are spending above the 2 percent of GDP target, based on NATO figures for 2023.
In the photo: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Trump’s tenure, which was marked by his open admiration for Putin, was a challenge to NATO, an organization largely controlled by the United States.
The prospect that he could return to power remains a deep concern among some, concerns that were stoked Saturday when Trump vowed to leave low-spending countries in the lurch.
‘Didn’t you pay? Are you a criminal? No, I wouldn’t protect them,” Trump said, adding that Russia could do “whatever it wants” to members who didn’t meet the promised criteria.
‘In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever they want. You have to pay. You have to pay your bills,’ she said.
The comment was met with immediate fury by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who accused Trump of endangering his nation’s allies.
“Any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security, including that of the United States, and puts American and European soldiers at greater risk.”
His comments were echoed by several other EU leaders, including Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who was quick to point out that his nation shares a land border with Ukraine, where a “hot war” is underway.
According to NATO’s mutual defense clause, Article 5 of its founding treaty, All allies agree to help any member who is attacked.
The article has only been activated once, by the United States, after the attacks of September 11, 2001.