Criticism of former US president Donald Trump’s remarks on Nato’s defense was voiced by top Western officials. Trump’s suggestion that the US might not protect Nato allies who fail to meet defense spending requirements drew strong reactions from Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who stated that any suggestion of allies not defending each other undermines security for all and puts soldiers at risk. Polish Defence Minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz stated that undermining allied countries weakens Nato as a whole. German officials also criticized Trump’s comments, with the German foreign ministry posting a message of solidarity on social media. European Union Council President Charles Michel stated that reckless statements on Nato’s security only serve the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump reportedly recounted a meeting with Nato leaders during a political rally in South Carolina, quoting the president of a large country asking if the US would protect them if they were attacked by Russia due to unpaid defense funding. Thierry Breton, EU Internal Market Commissioner, commented on Trump’s remarks, stating that flipping a coin about security every four years based on a presidential election was not acceptable. He added that EU leaders understood the need to increase military spending and capabilities.
The White House spokesperson also condemned Trump’s comments, stating that encouraging invasions of allies and undermining stability endangers American national security. Nato has a target of at least two percent of GDP spent on defense, but only 11 of its 31 members are meeting that target.