The former US president stoked outrage by saying he would encourage Russia to attack NATO states that don’t “pay their bills”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz took a veiled jab at ex-US President Donald Trump, suggesting he would “gamble” with European security after Trump mocked “delinquent” NATO members failing to meet the bloc’s minimum defense spending threshold.
Speaking alongside Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk in Berlin on Monday, Scholz insisted that NATO’s “promise of protection applies unreservedly,” appearing to respond to recent remarks from Trump on the campaign trail.
”And let me be clear about the current situation. Any relativization of NATO’s guarantee of mutual assistance is irresponsible and dangerous and is solely in the interests of Russia. Nobody can be allowed to gamble with Europe’s security,” he added.
The comments come after the ex-US president told a crowd in South Carolina on Saturday that he would “encourage” Moscow to attack any NATO country that failed to fulfil the alliance’s military spending target of 2% of GDP, joking that “delinquent” members “gotta pay. You gotta pay your bills.”
Berlin has long fallen short of the spending minimum, but reportedly plans to hit the 2% target sometime this year with assistance from a €100 billion fund created to shore up Germany’s defenses in light of the conflict in Ukraine. However, its regular budget is not expected to reach the goal for several more years, according to the Associated Press.
The bloc’s own statistics for 2023 show that most NATO states are not meeting the spending minimum. Of its 31 members, just 12 are currently spending at least 2% of GDP on defense.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also hit back at Trump’s provocative remarks, rejecting any suggestion that the alliance would not defend member states who fail to meet the threshold, while saying the idea “undermines all of our security.”
US President Joe Biden similarly condemned his predecessor’s words as “appalling and dangerous.”
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