Donald Trump’s suggestion that the US would not protect Nato allies failing to spend enough on defense “undermines all of our security,” according to the Western military alliance’s chief, Jens Stoltenberg.
The Republican said he had told allies he would “encourage” Russia to attack any Nato member that failed to meet the alliance’s target of 2% of their GDP. Members of Nato commit to defending any nation in the bloc that gets attacked.
The White House called Trump’s comments “appalling and unhinged.” According to Nato’s own figures for 2023 spending, 19 of its 30 member nations are spending below the target of 2% of their annual GDP on defence.
Most countries that border Ukraine, Russia, or its neighbor and ally Belarus are exceeding this guideline. Poland spends even more than the US at over 3.9% of its annual GDP. Romania, Hungary, Finland, and the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia range between 2.3 and 2.7% for defence expenditure. Stoltenberg emphasized that the alliance remains “ready and able” to defend its members and that any attack “will be met with a united and forceful response.”
He expects that regardless of who wins the presidential election, the US will remain a strong and committed Nato ally. Dr. Patrick Bury, a defence and security expert and former Nato analyst, said Trump was reflecting anger in the US that some European Nato countries were not spending 2% of their budget on the military, as Nato wants.
He said such statements had an impact at a time when Russia had put its economy on a war footing and its military spending was outstripping that of European countries.