Republicans are attacking Trump because of his threat to abandon his NATO allies

Written by Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Some of the former Pres Donald TrumpFellow Republicans criticized him on Sunday for saying he did not want to protect NATO members from a future attack by Russia if those countries’ contributions to the defense alliance were late.

“That’s why I’ve been saying for a long time that he’s unfit to be president of the United States,” former Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

During a political rally on Saturday in South Carolina, Trump complained about what he described as “delayed” payments by some NATO countries, and recounted what he said was a previous conversation with the president of a “major country” about an attack by Russia on such countries. .

Trump told the unnamed Russian president, “No, I’m not going to protect you. In fact, I’m going to encourage them (Russia) to do whatever they want. You have to pay.”

These statements sparked criticism from the White House, which described them as “appalling and disturbing,” as well as from other senior Western officials.

The failure of many of NATO’s 31 member states to meet a defense spending target of at least 2% of GDP has long been a source of tension with the United States, whose armed forces form the core of the alliance’s military power. NATO estimates show that only 11 members are spending at the targeted level.

“The last thing we ever want to do is side with Russia,” said former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Trump’s only remaining rival for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

She added in an interview with the “Face the Nation” program on CBS: “Do not stand with someone who went and invaded a country and killed or wounded half a million people because of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin” in his war. Against Ukraine.

republican Senator Lindsey GrahamA close ally of Trump told Reuters in a short interview that he did not agree with “the way (Trump) said it,” referring to NATO’s statements. Graham added: “Russia didn’t invade anyone while he was president, and if he becomes president again they won’t.”

Politico reported that Republican Senator Thom Tillis blamed Trump aides for failing to make clear to the former president that the United States, as a member of NATO, was committed to defending any member of the alliance under attack.

It also quoted Republican Senator Rand Paul as saying that Trump’s statements were “a stupid thing to say.”

On a day when the Senate held a rare weekend of debate on President Joe Biden’s request for emergency aid to help Ukraine fend off a Russian attack nearly two years ago and Israel in its war with Hamas in Gaza, some Republicans defended Trump.

“Almost every American president at some point, in some way, has complained that other countries in NATO are not doing enough. Trump is the first to express it in these terms. But I have no concern, because he was president before,” the senator said. Marco Rubio said in an interview with CNN:

In a statement, Jason Miller, a senior adviser to Trump’s campaign, avoided a statement that encouraged Russia to confront some NATO allies, saying: “Democrats and the media seem to have forgotten that we had four years of peace and prosperity under President Trump.” While leveling the attacks against Biden.

On Capitol Hill, Democratic Senator Peter Welch told Reuters: Trump “normalizes aggressive behavior. But he actually means it.”

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Don Durfee and Stephen Coates)

(tags for translation)Donald Trump

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