- Written by James Fitzgerald
- bbc news
President Donald Trump said he would “encourage” Russia to attack NATO members that don't pay their bills as part of the Western military alliance.
Speaking at Saturday's rally, he said he had previously told leaders he would not protect countries that were in arrears and would “encourage” the invaders to “do whatever they want”. .
NATO members pledge to defend any country in the bloc that is attacked.
The White House criticized the comments as “appalling and out of the ordinary.”
Addressing a crowd at a rally in South Carolina, Trump said he made the remarks about Russia during a meeting with leaders of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries.
He recalled presenting a hypothetical situation in which the leader of a “great power” had failed to meet its financial obligations within NATO and was under attack from Moscow.
Trump said he reprimanded the leader because he asked whether the United States would support his country in that scenario.
“I said, 'Are you not paying? Are you in arrears?'…'No, I'm not going to protect you. I'd rather encourage them to do whatever they want to do. .You have to pay.'”
A White House spokesperson said the former president was “encouraging a brutal regime to invade its closest allies” and called the remarks “appalling and outspoken.”
The statement further said it “jeopardizes the national security of the United States, global stability, and the domestic economy.”
Trump, who is considered the frontrunner to run again as the Republican candidate in this year's U.S. presidential election, has long criticized NATO and the excessive financial burden placed on the United States to guarantee the defense of 30 other countries. Ta.
Russia will begin a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 after Trump leaves office. Since then, he has lamented the amount of money the US sends to Ukraine, which is not a NATO member.
The US has provided more financial aid to Ukraine than any other country, totaling more than $44bn (£34bn) since the invasion in 2022, according to December White House figures. ing.
But Congressional Republicans have blocked all new funding since the start of the year and called for tough measures to restrict immigration into the United States at the southern border, rejecting an amended bill introduced earlier this week.
Trump celebrated the rejection at a rally Saturday, calling President Biden's proposal “disastrous.”