Secretary General of Nato, Jens Stoltenberg (right), and the former US President Donald Trump (left) during Nato Leaders meeting in 2019 (Picture: MOD)

Trump comments put US and European troops at increased risk, says Nato chief

US and European troops are “at increased risk” following Donald Trump’s comments suggesting he might encourage Russia to attack members of the alliance who do not pay enough to Nato.

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has criticised the former US president for saying he would not protect any Nato member from a Russian attack who failed to meet the alliance’s target of 2% of their GDP.

During a political rally in South Carolina on Saturday, Mr Trump complained about what he called “delinquent” payments by some Nato countries.

He recounted what he said was a past conversation with the head of “a big country” about an attack by Russia on such countries whose contribution to Nato were lagging behind.

‘You gotta pay’

Trump said he told the unnamed leader: “No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them (Russia) to do whatever the hell they want. You gotta pay.”

The remarks made by the former US president provoked rebukes from the White House, which called them “appalling and unhinged”.

The failure of many of Nato’s 31 members to meet a defence spending target of at least 2% of gross domestic product has been a source of tension with the US, whose armed forces form the core of the alliance’s military power.

Nato estimates have shown that, currently, only 11 members are spending at the target level. This is, however, a bump up from 2022, when just seven allies cleared the spending threshold.

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