Former President Trump doubled down on his criticism of NATO, arguing Monday that the military alliance was more robust under his leadership in the White House.
Trump claimed he made NATO “strong” during his administration by pressing members to pay more to meet the alliance’s defense spending targets. He urged the alliance to “equalize” and do the same thing today.
“I MADE NATO STRONG, and even the RINOS and Radical Left Democrats admit that,” Trump wrote Monday in a post on Truth Social. “When I told the 20 Countries that weren’t paying their fair share that they had to PAY UP, and said without doing that you will not have U.S. Military Protection, the money came rolling in.”
“After so many years of the United States picking up the tab, it was a beautiful sight to see. But now, without me there to say YOU MUST PAY, they are at it again,” he added
The former president’s remarks come in the face of scrutiny from various U.S. and top western officials after he shared a story at a South Carolina rally over the weekend about how an unidentified foreign leader once questioned him about his threat not to defend members who fail to reach the alliance’s defense spending targets.
He continued, claiming he told the leader he would “encourage” Russia to do whatever it wishes and recounted saying, “You didn’t pay? You’re delinquent.”
During his presidency, Trump repeatedly pressed member nations to commit 2 percent of their GDP to defense spending. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said at least half of the 31-member alliance are expected to meet that figure in 2024, which is up from seven members in 2022.
The former president repeatedly threatened to withdraw from the alliance during his presidency and John Bolton, who served as national security adviser under his administration, warned Trump could try to push forward with his threat if elected to a second term.
Stoltenberg on Sunday said Trump’s remarks put the safety of U.S. troops and their allies at risk.
Trump also pointed to the billions of U.S. dollars spent in funding for Ukraine in his recent push for NATO to be more aggressive in getting members to reach spending targets.
“We are into helping Ukraine for more than 100 Billion Dollars more than NATO,” he wrote. “We have nobody that they respect, and they insist on paying far less than we do. Wrong, NATO HAS TO EQUALIZE, AND NOW. THEY WILL DO THAT IF PROPERLY ASKED. IF NOT, AMERICA FIRST! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.”
President Biden called Trump’s weekend remarks “appalling and dangerous,” while Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley — Trump’s main GOP primary challenger — warned the former president should not “take the side of a thug,” referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
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