Trump’s threat to NATO allies sharply condemned in Germany

Berlin, Feb 12, (dpa/GNA) – US presidential candidate Donald Trump’s invitation to Russia, to do “whatever the hell they want” to NATO members not meeting their financial commitments, has drawn sharp criticism from German politicians and experts.

“These statements are irresponsible and even play into Russia’s hands,” German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Monday, during a visit to the Cypriot capital Nicosia.

“And nobody in our alliance can have any interest in that.”

Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for the November election, said at a campaign event in the state of South Carolina on Saturday, that he would “encourage” Russia “to do whatever the hell they want” to NATO countries that are not spending enough on defence.

German foreign policy experts also expressed their dismay.

“Donald Trump’s misguided statements on the USA’s treaty obligations in the event of an attack on a NATO member, prove once again how unpredictable, unscrupulous and unreliable he is,” the German government’s Transatlantic Coordinator Michael Link, told Monday’s edition of the Tagesspiegel newspaper.

Former foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel, said that the statement was like an invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin, to test the defence alliance.

“He won’t test us in Germany, but perhaps in the Baltic states,” Gabriel warned on Deutschlandfunk radio on Monday.

The chairman of the Munich Security Conference, Christoph Heusgen, said on Monday that Trump’s demands for more defence spending are not surprising, as he already said that as US president “in his own unique way.”

Conservative policy expert Norbert Röttgen, said Trump would plunge NATO into an existential crisis, because he sees the alliance in transactional terms.

Germany must therefore “understand that we may soon have no choice but to defend ourselves at a time, when there is war in Europe.”