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Trump says US won't leave NATO if member states 'play fair'

by Chris York March 19, 2024 7:35 PM 2 min read
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during an event at the Mar-a-Lago Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, on April 4, 2023. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
This audio is created with AI assistance

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Former U.S. President Donald Trump said the U.S. will remain in NATO and come to the aid of a bloc member if they are attacked so long as other countries “play fair” and pay their share of maintaining the alliance.

“NATO has to treat the U.S. fairly, because if it's not for the United States, NATO literally doesn't even exist,” Trump told British broadcaster GB News in an interview to air March 19.

Trump – who could be reelected to the White House later this year – unsettled international allies last month when he said he would allow Russia to do "whatever the hell they want" to NATO member countries failing to meet defense spending criteria.

NATO members are obliged under the Article 5 collective security clause to respond militarily if one of them is attacked by a hostile nation.

When asked if the U.S. under his possible future leadership would fulfill this commitment, he said: “Yeah. But you know, the United States should pay its fair share, not everybody else's fair share.

“We have an ocean in between some problems ... we have a nice big, beautiful ocean, [NATO] is more important for (European countries), they will take an advantage.”

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But Trump stressed that if other members “play fair,” the U.S. would back them “100 percent.”

In 2014, NATO allies reached an agreement following Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula to cease the reduction in defense spending implemented after the Cold War and aim to allocate 2% of their GDPs to defense by 2024.

Trump’s comments on NATO aren’t the only ones that have raised concerns in Kyiv and other European capitals – earlier this month Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, claimed Trump had told him he will "not give a penny into the Ukraine-Russia war" if elected again.

And Trump's sway over the Republican party has contributed to the continuing deadlock in Congress over U.S. aid to Ukraine.

The Senate passed a funding bill containing $60 billion in aid for Ukraine earlier in February, but House Speaker Mike Johnson has so far declined to bring it to a vote.

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