Donald Trump Earned Joe Biden, Western Leaders' Ire After Saying He'd Let Russia Attack NATO Countries Not Paying Enough

By Jace Dela Cruz

Feb 12, 2024 02:55 AM EST

President Joe Biden and other top Western officials have lambasted former President Donald Trump after he suggested that the United States (US) may not protect NATO allies who are not spending enough on defense from a potential Russian invasion. 

Former President Trump Holds Campaign Rally In Conway, South Carolina
(Photo : Win McNamee/Getty Images)
CONWAY, SOUTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 10: Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump speaks to an overflow crowd during a Get Out The Vote rally at Coastal Carolina University on February 10, 2024 in Conway, South Carolina. South Carolina holds its Republican primary on February 24.

Joe Biden Reacts on Donald Trump's NATO Comments

In a campaign event at Conway, South Carolina, on Saturday, CNN reported that Donald Trump, while president, told the leaders of NATO countries that he would urge Russia to do "whatever the hell they want" to any member country that is not paying the money they owed to the military alliance.

"NATO was busted until I came along... I said, 'Everybody's gonna pay.' They said, 'Well, if we don't pay, are you still going to protect us?' I said, 'Absolutely not.' They couldn't believe the answer," Trump said in his speech.

When asked by "one of the presidents of a big country" if the US would still defend them if they were attacked by Russia even if they "don't pay," the former president recalled telling that president: "No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want... You got to pay your bills." 

Reacting to Trump's remarks, Joe Biden said on Sunday in a statement sent to CNN that the former president "is making it clear that he will abandon our NATO allies" if Russia attacks. 

Biden then emphasized the possible consequences of Trump's remarks, saying that his opponent's admittance "that he intends to give Putin a greenlight 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." 

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Also Reacted to Donald Trump's NATO Comments

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Sunday that Donald Trump's remarks put American and European soldiers at risk.

"Any attack on NATO will be met with a united and forceful response... Any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security, including that of the US, and puts American and European soldiers at increased risk," Stoltenberg said in a statement.

European Council President Charles Michel further noted that Trump's "reckless" comments only serve Russian President Vladimir Putin's "interest."

For his part, Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who has endorsed the former president, told CNN's "State of the Union" that Trump only recalled a narrative from his presidency, claiming that NATO member countries were not "paying their dues" until the former president "used leverage" to push them to "step up to the plate."

For his part, Trump's senior campaign advisor, Jason Miller, noted that the former president "got our allies to increase their NATO spending by demanding they pay up, but Joe Biden went back to letting them take advantage of the American taxpayer." Miller added that "when you don't pay your defense spending, you can't be surprised that you get more war," Reuters reported

NATO, an international military alliance consisting of 31 members, has set a target for each member country to allocate at least 2% of their gross domestic product (GDP) to defense. However, according to Reuters, only 11 countries are spending that much.

According to CNN, Trump, who has repeatedly threatened to withdraw the US from NATO, has long complained about the sum of money other NATO member countries spend on defense compared with the US.

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