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18 Feb, 2024 14:27

Member state’s PM tells EU to ‘stop whining’ about Trump

The bloc’s need to boost defense spending does not depend on whether the ex-US president is re-elected, Mark Rutte has said
Member state’s PM tells EU to ‘stop whining’ about Trump

Europe should be spending more on defense and ramping up its ammunition production to boost its own security and help Ukraine, outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday. He added that the need to improve the defense capabilities of the bloc does not depend on whether former US President Donald Trump is reelected this November or not.

He was referring to Trump’s warning earlier this month that if he is reelected, he would withhold military protection from NATO member states that don’t spend enough on defense. All members of the alliance are required to allocate 2% of their GDP on defense, though most fail to meet the target.

Trump’s comments were met with unease in Europe, and Rutte said he has heard numerous complaints about the possible consequences of his reelection. However, according to the official, these worries are beside the point.

“Stop moaning, and whining, and nagging about Trump. We do not spend more on defense or ramp up ammunition production because Trump might come back. It’s up to the Americans. I’m not an American, I cannot vote in the US. We have to work with whoever is on the dance floor,” he said.

Rutte argued that raising defense spending is in the interest of all NATO members, and warned that if Russia “is successful in Ukraine, it will have an impact on all of us in terms of our collective safety and defense.” According to the official, his country in particular is already spending “in the top league” along with Germany and Norway, and will continue to do so.

Rutte noted that following his discussions with US politicians during the conference in Munich, he was “cautiously optimistic” that Washington’s next military aid package for Ukraine would eventually pass. US lawmakers failed to approve additional funding of $60 billion for Kiev before going on winter recess, but are set to resume discussions on the package later this month.