Thursday, February 22, 2024
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NATO leader says Trump puts allies at risks by saying Russia can ‘do whatever the hell they want’

WARSAW, Poland — NATO’s chief warned Sunday that Donald Trump is endangering the security of U.S. troops and their allies after the Republican presidential frontrunner said Russia should be able to do “whatever it wants.” wants” to alliance members who do not do so. They are not meeting their defense spending targets.

Trump’s remarks sparked deep concern in Poland, a central European country that has mostly been under Russian control since the late 18th century. Defense Minister Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz said that “no election campaign is an excuse to play with the security of the alliance.”

Speaking at a rally in Conway, South Carolina, on Saturday, Trump recalled how, as president, he told an unidentified NATO member that he would “encourage” Russia to do what that it wishes in the case of NATO allies who are “delinquent”.

“’You haven’t paid? Are you a delinquent?’ “, Trump said. “No, I won’t protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever they want. You have to pay. You have to pay your bills.’”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the 31 allies were determined to defend each other.

“NATO remains ready and able to defend all its allies. Any attack on NATO will result in a united and forceful response,” Stoltenberg said. “Any suggestion that allies will not defend themselves undermines our entire security, including that of the United States, and places American and European soldiers at increased risk. »

Stoltenberg added in his statement that he expects that “regardless of who wins the presidential election, the United States will remain a strong and committed ally in NATO.”

The German government has not officially commented on Trump’s remarks, but the German Foreign Ministry issued a statement Sunday morning emphasizing NATO’s principle of solidarity.

“‘One for all and all for one.’ This NATO credo ensures the safety of more than 950 million people – from Anchorage to Erzurum,” the Foreign Ministry said on X, formerly Twitter.

The German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote in an editorial that “if Trump becomes president of the United States again, such statements will increase the risk that Putin will expand his war. To counter this, Europeans can only do one thing: finally invest in their military security commensurate with the seriousness of the situation.”

Trump’s comments were of particular concern to front-line NATO countries, such as Poland and the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, which were either under Moscow’s control or fully integrated into the bloc. Soviet during the Cold War. Fears are particularly acute there given Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

While in office, Trump had already threatened not to come to the aid of any attacked country that he considered beholden to NATO and the United States and that did not spend enough on its defense. His position has destabilized the alliance, particularly the countries bordering Russia.

Under NATO’s mutual defense clause, Article 5 of its founding treaty, all allies agree to assist any member attacked. Article 5 has only been activated once – by the United States following the attacks of September 11, 2001.

After Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, NATO leaders agreed to end defense spending cuts made after the end of the Cold War and start spending 2% of their proceeds gross domestic to their military budgets. No country is in debt to another or to NATO.

NATO has undertaken its largest military buildup since the Cold War, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Cook reported from Brussels. Associated Press writer Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin contributed to this report.

Note: The content and images used in this article is rewritten and sourced from www.chicagotribune.com

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