BarcelonaThe inflammatory speech of former US President and Republican candidate Donald Trump on Saturday night was directed against NATO allies who, according to him, do not contribute enough to collective defense. He considered that these countries should not enjoy the protection of Article 5 of NATO, which stipulates that the bloc must defend any member under attack. In fact, he went further, saying he would “encourage” Russia to “do with them whatever it wants.”
At a campaign event in South Carolina — the next state to hold its presidential primaries in November — Trump referenced a NATO meeting during his presidency, where he reportedly warned a head of state from an allied nation that the United States and other nations would not defend any country “that lags behind… Payment.” “The head of a large country stood up and asked: If we don't pay and Russia attacks us, will Russia protect us?” He said, “No, I won't protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever they want with you. You have to pay.”
Trump made these statements at a time of growing concern in Europe about the possibility of the businessman returning to the White House, taking into account the heavy dependence on Washington in terms of the European continent's military and defense capabilities. Indeed, during the 2016 campaign, Trump warned that he might consider abandoning obligations under the NATO Treaty, and that he would only guarantee the defense of countries that fulfilled the commitment to allocate 2% of GDP to defense. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the need to reach this number became even more important.
White House spokesman Andrew Bates described Trump's comments as “terrible” and “disturbing.” “Instead of calling for wars and promoting insane chaos, President Biden will continue to strengthen American leadership and defend our national security interests, and will not conflict with them,” he said in a statement.
Aid to Ukraine is prohibited
Trump's position also worries Kiev. Ukraine has been waiting for months for the launch of a new $60 billion military aid package, which has stalled in the US Congress due to electoral wrangling between Democrats and Republicans and, above all, divisions within Trump's party, fueled by the former president.
In early November, President Joe Biden sent Congress an “urgent” request to approve joint aid to Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and the border with Mexico. After three months of negotiations, a bill approved by both groups was announced in the Senate last Sunday, guaranteeing promised aid to countries at war, while tightening immigration policy on the southern border. But the agreement was born dead, because the more conservative Republican wing immediately said that it would not support it, especially because of the influence of Trump, who wants to prevent Biden from achieving a victory in the final months of his term.
During this week, two attempts to approve aid in the Senate failed, to no avail. A new vote is scheduled for Sunday, but even if it goes ahead in the Senate, it is expected to remain stuck in the House, where Republicans hold the majority.