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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

How Trump urging Russia to invade ‘delinquent’ NATO members distorts how the alliance works – Daily Freeman

By VANESSA GERA (Associated Press)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Donald Trump, the front-runner for the Republican Party’s nomination this year, says he once warned that he would allow Russia to do whatever it wants to NATO member nations that are “delinquent” in devoting 2% of their gross domestic product to defense.

Trump’s comment on Saturday represented the latest instance in which the former president seemed to side with an authoritarian state over America’s democratic allies. It also adds to evidence that the 77-year-old either does not understand how NATO works or is distorting the truth for political gain.

WHAT DID TRUMP SAY?

Speaking at a rally in Conway, South Carolina, Trump recalled how as president he told an unidentified NATO member that he would withhold U.S. help and “encourage” Russia to do as it wishes with allies that do not contribute enough to military spending.

“‘You didn’t pay? You’re delinquent?’” Trump recounted saying. “‘No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You gotta pay. You gotta pay your bills.’”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg shot back with an unusually strong statement saying that Trump was threatening the security of the entire trans-Atlantic alliance.

“Any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security, including that of the U.S., and puts American and European soldiers at increased risk,” Stoltenberg said.

President Joe Biden, who is on track toward a rematch against Trump in November, also issued a statement criticizing Trump.

“Donald Trump’s admission that he intends to give Putin a green light for more war and violence, to continue his brutal assault against a free Ukraine, and to expand his aggression to the people of Poland and the Baltic States are appalling and dangerous,” Biden said.

WHAT DID TRUMP GET WRONG?

NATO members don’t pay to belong and don’t owe the organization anything other than contributions to a largely administrative fund. Trump clearly wasn’t referring to those administrative payments.

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