Trump Says Warned NATO Allies: Pay Up Or Tell Russia ‘Do Whatever The Hell’ It Wants

Former President Donald J. Trump said Saturday that while he was president, he told NATO leaders that he would “encourage” Russia “to do whatever they want” to countries that have not paid money owed to the alliance’s military.

Mr Trump has not made clear whether he ever intended to follow through on such a threat or what it would mean for the alliance, but his comment at a campaign event in South Carolina — a variation on one he has made earlier to highlight his negotiating skills — is likely to raise concerns. among NATO member states, which are already very nervous about the possibility of Trump’s return.

Trump’s suggestion that he would encourage Russian aggression against the United States’ ally — for whatever reason — comes as congressional Republicans have rejected more aid to Ukraine in its war against Russia, and as European officials have expressed concern about possible Russian aggression on NATO’s eastern flank. -a.

Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed the warnings as “inciting a threat” in an interview with Tucker Carlson, a former Fox News anchor, that aired Thursday. “We have no interest in Poland, Latvia or anywhere else,” Putin said.

But he also called on the United States to “make a deal” to end the war in Ukraine by ceding Ukrainian territory to Russia, comments that some saw as an appeal to American conservatives to block further involvement in the war.

Some European officials and foreign policy experts have said they are concerned that Russia could invade the NATO nation after its war with Ukraine ends, a fear they say is heightened by the prospect of Mr. Trump returning to the presidency.

Mr Trump has previously expressed his belief that NATO support is too burdensome for the United States, saying the alliance is a drain on its financial and military resources. His campaign website says the country must rethink the organization’s purpose.

He recalled in the past how he privately told NATO members that the United States would not defend them from Russian attacks if they were late. Last year, during a campaign speech, he claimed that “hundreds of billions of dollars flowed” into NATO after he made that threat.

He repeated that anecdote on Saturday, saying he had told European leaders they had to “pay.”

Then, he said, the president of a “great country stood up and said, ‘Well, sir, if we don’t pay and we get attacked by Russia, will you protect us?’

Mr Trump said he asked the second president if the country was “delinquent” on its payments. The leader replied, “Yes. Let’s say it happened,” Trump said.

“No, I wouldn’t protect you,” Mr. Trump recalled responding. “In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever they want. You have to pay. You have to pay your bills.”

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