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19 Feb, 2024 03:54

NATO should expel underpaying members – US senator

Lindsey Graham says he agrees with ex-President Donald Trump’s recent statements that member states need to meet their obligations
NATO should expel underpaying members – US senator

US Senator Lindsey Graham has proposed expelling countries from NATO if their defense budget does not meet the bloc’s spending criteria, echoing a series of controversial statements recently made by former President Donald Trump.

NATO guidelines require member states to commit at least 2% of their GDP to defense spending which, according to Graham, is not being followed by 19 of the 31 members. Speaking to CBS News on Sunday, Graham said he agrees with Trump, who insists that all “NATO nations” should pay “their bills” or otherwise have military protection withheld.

“President Trump is right to want NATO nations to meet their obligation of 2 percent. We need to turn it into an obligation that means something,” the lawmaker said, adding that he wants “a system where, if you don’t pay, you get kicked out.”

“I’m a big fan of NATO. But there’s $70 billion to $80 billion left on the table. If you’re in NATO, pay the 2 percent,” he added.

Trump, who is currently in the lead for the Republican presidential nomination for this year’s election, has been an ardent critic of the US-led military bloc, calling it “obsolete” and arguing that member states “laugh at the stupidity of the United States” for pulling most of the weight when it comes to spending on Ukraine. Last week, he said that he would not defend “delinquent” NATO members and would even “encourage” Russia to attack nations that do not pay up.