WASHINGTON: White House hopeful Donald Trump has said he would “encourage” Russia to attack members of Nato who had not met their financial obligations, his most extreme broadside against the military alliance he has long expressed skepticism about.

Reacting to comments of president hopeful Trump made, Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement on Sunday that any suggestion that Nato allies would not defend each other undermines all of the alliance’s security and puts US and European soldiers at risk.

However, he added, “Any attack on Nato will be met with a united and forceful response.”

With US lawmakers debating new aid for Ukraine ahead of the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion, the former president has repeatedly said it was unfair to commit the United States to defending Nato’s 30 other member nations.

Speaking in South Carolina, Trump described a conversation with a fellow head of state at an unspecified Nato meeting.

“One of the presidents of a big country stood up and said, ‘Well, sir, if we don’t pay, and we’re attacked by Russia, will you protect us?’ I said, ‘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 got to pay. You got to pay your bills.”

Trump’s remark comes after Senate Republicans on Wedne­sday rejected a bipartisan bill that would have included sorely needed new funding for Ukraine, plus aid for ally Israel, along with reforms to address the US-Mexico border crisis.

The White House hit back at Trump’s assertions, touting President Joe Biden’s efforts to bolster alliances around the globe. “Encouraging invasions of our closest allies by murderous regimes is appalling and unhinged,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said.

Published in Dawn, February 12th, 2024

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