Steinmeier calls Trump’s statements about NATO "irresponsible"

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier sharply criticized former US President Donald Trump’s announcement that he would not defend defaulting NATO allies in the event of re-election. “These statements are irresponsible and even play into Russia’s hands,” said Steinmeier on Monday during a visit to the Cypriot capital Nicosia. “Nobody in our alliance can have an interest in that.”

Trump reported on Saturday at a rally in the US state of South Carolina about an unspecified meeting with NATO partners: “One of the presidents of a great country stood up and said: ‘Well, sir, if we don’t pay and get attacked by Russia will you protect us then?'”. Trump responded by saying that in this case he would not protect the country and would even encourage Russia to do “whatever they want” with him.

During his first term in office, Trump had already accused European NATO partners of investing too little money in defense and of allowing themselves to be protected at the expense of the USA. He had repeatedly questioned whether the USA would fulfill its obligation to provide support in the military alliance.

Steinmeier commented on Trump’s comments after a meeting with Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides. The German head of state said that even if some things were provocative in the election campaign, that didn’t mean “that we don’t take it seriously.” It is clear that the Europeans must increase their defense efforts – regardless of whether the incumbent US President Joe Biden or Trump is re-elected. But he also called on Europeans “not to act as if the election had already been decided in the USA.”