Donald Trump relativizes his NATO statement – "way to negotiate"

Donald Trump is one of the biggest critics of NATO. He recently threatened to leave alliance partners hanging. Now the Republican is adopting a milder tone.

Former US President Donald Trump has made it clear that if he returns to the White House, the US would not leave NATO as long as Europe makes its contribution to the military alliance. The Republican was asked about his stance on the defense alliance by moderator and Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage in an interview broadcast on Tuesday with the right-wing British broadcaster GB News. In it he described his NATO statement as a mere negotiating tactic. “What I'm saying is a way of negotiating,” the right-wing populist told the British broadcaster GB News on Tuesday. “Why should we protect these countries that have a lot of money while the US pays most of it for NATO?”

Farage wanted to know whether America would stay in NATO if the other member states “played fairly.” Trump replied: “Yes. 100 percent.” However, European countries should not take advantage of American support, Trump said. “The United States should pay its fair share, not everyone else's.” One should not forget that NATO is more important for Europe than for the USA, because there is “a beautiful, big, wonderful ocean” between the USA and “some problems” in Europe.

In an interview with GB News, Trump reiterated that he was able to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “I got along great with Putin,” he said. This is a good thing, not a bad thing.

Donald Trump repeatedly questioned NATO

It was only in February that the Republican presidential candidate caused a stir with a statement about NATO at a campaign event. He said he would not provide protection from Russia to NATO partners who do not meet their financial obligations. He would then even encourage Russia to do “whatever they want” with them. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reacted clearly: “Any suggestion that the allies will not defend each other undermines our entire security, including that of the USA, and increases the risk for American and European soldiers.”

Trump is a proven critic of NATO. During his term in office from 2017 to 2021, Trump repeatedly openly threatened to withdraw the USA from the alliance. He sharply criticized his members for not meeting the defense spending target. Like no one before, he raised doubts about whether the transatlantic defense alliance founded in 1949 had a future. For example, he repeatedly questioned whether the USA would fulfill its obligation to provide military assistance in an emergency.

What happens after Trump is re-elected?

This year, 18 of the 31 allies are complying with the so-called NATO quota and spending at least two percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defense. According to diplomats in Brussels, Germany is at around 2.1 percent for the first time since the end of the Cold War.

If Trump wins the election, the allies are not only worried about the future of NATO, but also about US support for Ukraine. The Republican boasts that he will be able to end the Ukraine war on his first day in office.