Trump suggests that he would support Russian aggression against NATO allies who are not fulfilling their commitments.

On February 10, 2024 at 10:43 PM EST, Republican front-runner Donald Trump addressed a crowd at a Pennsylvania NRA event, where he discussed his stance on foreign aid and international alliances. Trump stated that as president, he had warned NATO allies that he would not defend countries that fail to meet the alliance’s defense spending targets. He went on to say that in such a scenario, he would “encourage” Russia to do as they please in those countries. Trump shared a story about an unidentified NATO member who confronted him over his threat, and he reiterated his belief that countries must pay their fair share for defense.

The White House responded to Trump’s comments, with spokesperson Andrew Bates stating that encouraging invasions by “murderous regimes” is dangerous and goes against American national security interests. The statement also emphasized President Biden’s commitment to strengthening American leadership and protecting national security.

Trump’s remarks come at a time when Ukraine is still dealing with the aftermath of Russia’s 2022 invasion, and as Republicans in Congress are hesitant to provide additional aid to the country. They also come as Trump’s team is confident in his chances of securing the nomination for the 2024 Republican presidential race, following his recent victories in the first votes of the nominating calendar.

During his 2016 campaign, Trump caused concern among Western allies by suggesting that the US may not honor its NATO treaty commitments and would only defend countries that meet the alliance’s guidelines for military spending. While only three countries met the 2% GDP spending target in 2014, as of 2022, seven countries are now meeting the obligation, with some increasing their spending in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Trump has previously taken credit for this increase, claiming that his threats led to “hundreds of billions of dollars” being invested in NATO, although countries do not pay the alliance directly.  

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