The former president has repeatedly said the US is unfairly carrying the financial burden of the security alliance.
Former United States President Donald Trump has stirred strong reactions in Europe after saying Washington might not protect NATO allies from potential attack from Russia if he wins the November election unless some members of the alliance step up their military spending.
Speaking at a campaign rally on Saturday in South Carolina, the Republican Party’s presidential frontrunner said he told an unnamed leader of a “big country” that is part of NATO that he would “encourage them [Russia] to do whatever the hell they want” with nations that don’t spend sufficiently on defence.
NATO, which was formed during the Cold War, consists of 31 nations, all of them in Europe except for the US and Canada. Under Article 5 of the treaty that created the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, an attack on one member prompts a response from all.
Trump has made similar comments about military spending by other NATO members previously, including when he was president, saying the US unfairly shoulders the alliance’s defence burden.
But while the real estate developer-turned-politician’s rhetoric about the alliance remains unchanged, the spending by NATO members is different from what they were when Trump was in office.