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NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg strongly rebutted former President Donald Trump’s comments about encouraging Russian aggression towards NATO members that do not meet defense spending targets, stating, “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.” These remarks were in direct response to Trump’s statements at a South Carolina rally, where he discussed his confrontational stance on alliance members’ financial contributions.

During the rally, Trump recounted a conversation with an unnamed foreign leader, revealing his willingness to allow Russia free rein over “delinquent” NATO members. He explicitly stated, “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.” This stance has elicited a strong rebuke from various Western officials and Trump’s political rivals.

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Officials from across the NATO alliance, including Polish Defense Minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz, have highlighted the importance of mutual defense, a cornerstone of NATO’s ethos. Kosiniak-Kamysz emphasized, “NATO’s motto ‘one for all, all for one’ is a concrete commitment. Undermining the credibility of allied countries means weakening the entire North Atlantic Treaty Organization.”

Similar sentiments were echoed by Germany’s foreign ministry and EU Council President Charles Michel, who, without directly naming Trump, criticized any undermining of NATO’s collective defense principle, asserting such actions primarily benefit adversaries like Putin.

Criticism wasn’t limited to international figures; Trump’s domestic political rivals also voiced their disapproval. President Joe Biden labeled Trump’s comments as “appalling and dangerous,” while Nikki Haley, a primary GOP challenger and former United Nations Ambassador, cautioned against siding with authoritarian figures and affirmed her unwavering support for NATO.


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