Former President Donald Trump’swho failed to meet their defense spending targets “undermines all of our security,” NATO Secretary General Jans Stoltenberg said Sunday.
At a campaign event on Saturday, Trump recounted a story he told an unidentified NATO member when asked about his threats to not defend allies who did not meet defense spending targets against an aggressor.
“‘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 gotta pay. You gotta pay your bills,'” Mr. Trump recounted saying.
In a written statement on Sunday, Stoltenberg said, “NATO remains ready and able to defend all Allies. 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 U.S. and puts American and European soldiers at increased risk. I expect that regardless of who wins the presidential election, the U.S. will remain a strong and committed NATO ally.”
What are NATO defense spending targets?
NATO ally countries are committed to spending at least 2% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defense in order to ensure their military readiness. According to NATO data from 2023, 19 of NATO’s 30 members are spending less than that, though most NATO nations near Ukraine, Russia or Russian ally Belarus are spending more that 2% of their GDP on defense.
Finland, Hungary, Romania, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania all spend between 2.3% and 2.7% of their GDP on defense, while Poland spends over 3.9%.
The U.S. spent 3.49% of its GDP on defense spending in 2023, according to NATO figures.
President Biden condemned Trump’s comments, saying “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, [is] appalling and dangerous.”
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Monday, “Let’s be serious. NATO cannot be an a la carte military alliance, it cannot be a military alliance that works depending on the humor of the president of the U.S. day to day.
Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Pawel Zalewski, said Mr. Trump’s comments were “very worrying.”
“He correctly calls on member countries to spend more on defense, but he also calls on Russia to attack. This is completely incomprehensible,” Zalewski told the publication POLITICO.
The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, said in a statement on social media that, “the Transatlantic Alliance has underpinned the security and the prosperity of Americans, Canadians and Europeans for 75 years. Reckless statements on NATO’s security and Art 5 solidarity serve only Putin’s interest. They do not bring more security or peace to the world.” Michel said that such remarks “reemphasize the need for the EU to urgently further develop its strategic autonomy and invest in its defense. And keep our alliance strong.”