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20 Mar, 2024 14:06

US will defend allies who pay their ‘fair share’ – Trump

The Republican presidential contender has been condemned for saying he would let Russia attack “delinquent” NATO members
US will defend allies who pay their ‘fair share’ – Trump

Former US president Donald Trump has said that he would defend America’s NATO allies, provided they meet their military spending targets. Trump’s warning that he would “encourage” Russia to attack countries that do not pay up was “a form of negotiation” meant to force them to up their spending, he explained.

In an interview with GB News host Nigel Farage aired on Tuesday, Trump was asked whether NATO’s European members could count on the US to defend them if they start to “play fair” and meet the bloc’s requirement of spending 2% of GDP on their militaries.

“Yes. But the United States should pay its fair share, not everybody else’s fair share,” Trump replied. 

“So if they start to play fair, America’s there?” Farage asked again, to which Trump responded: “100%.”

NATO’s 31 member states (not counting Sweden, which joined the bloc this year) spent $1.26 trillion on defense in 2023. More than two-thirds of this amount was spent by the US, which allocated more money to its military than every other member state combined. 

Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee to challenge President Joe Biden in this November’s presidential election. Speaking at a campaign rally last month, he recalled meeting with NATO leaders during his presidency and informing them that he would not defend “delinquent” countries. “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?’,” Trump told the crowd.

“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’ve got to pay. You’ve got to pay your bills.”

Trump’s comments set off a wave of condemnation, with Biden calling them “appalling and unhinged,” and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stating that “Any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security… and puts American and European soldiers at increased risk.”

Trump told the same story to Farage, adding that he does not care how his comments are being used by his political opponents.

“They can use it, I don’t care if they use it,” he said. “Because what I’m saying is a form of negotiation. Why should we guard these countries that have a lot of money and the United States was paying for most of NATO?”

“But now they’re paying because of those comments that you saw two, three weeks ago,” he claimed. “I don’t know if you know, but a lot of money’s come in since those comments were made.”

According to NATO, 18 member states are expected to meet or exceed the 2% spending threshold this year. This figure represents a sixfold increase since 2014, when only three members – the US, UK, and Greece – hit the target.