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Donald Trump threatens NATO, says he would ‘encourage’ Russia to ‘do whatever the hell they want’

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Former President Donald Trump again stirred fears about the future of NATO by suggesting he might not come to the aid of European nations if they’re attacked by Russia − and might even “encourage” Russians “to do whatever the hell they want.”

Trump, during a campaign rally in Conway, South Carolina, on Saturday said his decision, if he’s elected again, would be based on whether NATO members are contributing enough to the foundational alliance. The former president said he made that very point during an international meeting that took place during his presidency.

“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?’ He said, ‘Yes, let’s say that happened.’ No, I would not protect you.”

Trump then added: “In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want.”

Trump’s periodic threats have outraged foreign policy analysts who believe that Trump will destroy NATO if he’s elected to a second term. The former president’s critics say Trump bashes NATO as a sign of support for Russia President Vladimir Putin, another longtime rival of the European military alliance.

The NATO charter requires members to come to the aid of others if they are attacked. NATO invoked this article to help the United States after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Members of the international organization, formed in the wake of World War II, do not pay dues as such. They use a budget formula that Trump has repeatedly mischaracterized during his years in public life.

NATO members are asked to spend at least 2% of their GDP on defense. Not all members have reached this goal, fueling Trump’s criticism of the alliance.

The Biden administration immediately denounced Trump’s latest comments about NATO. White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said that “encouraging invasions of our closest allies by murderous regimes is appalling and unhinged.”

He said “it endangers American national security, global stability, and our economy at home.”

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