Scholz Slams Trump NATO Stance as ‘Irresponsible, Dangerous’

(Bloomberg) -- German Chancellor Olaf Scholz blasted comments by Donald Trump questioning US commitments to defend NATO allies in case they were attacked, saying the position endangers Europe.

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Without naming Trump explicitly, Scholz said that Germany and neighboring Poland have mutual defense commitments as part of the military alliance — and that nobody should question that arrangement.

“In view of the current developments, let me make it clear: Any relativization of NATO’s guarantee of assistance is irresponsible and dangerous - and is solely in the interests of Russia,” Scholz told reporters in Berlin alongside Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

“No one is allowed to play with Europe’s security,” the German leader said. At a rally in South Carolina over the weekend, Trump related a conversation with an unidentified NATO leader, saying he would tell Russia to do “whatever the hell they want” if the Kremlin attacked a member that hadn’t met its defense-spending commitments.

The comments underscored worries among NATO members about a second term for the former US president and galvanized efforts in Europe to shore up defense. Scholz said that Germany — a long-time laggard in military budgets — will meet the alliance’s spending goal this year with the equivalent of 2.1% of economic output. Berlin will meet the target year for year thereafter, he added.

Poland’s Tusk said that Russia’s nuclear threat is “not an abstraction” and that Europe needs to be better prepared to respond to aggression after the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine, adding that he welcomed France’s offer to deploy its nuclear arsenal to help defend the region.

“These words of Donald Trump should have the effect of a cold shower for all those who constantly underestimate this increasingly real threat Europe is facing,” said Tusk. “We need to increase our defense capabilities and the European part of NATO is particularly determined on this matter.”

Scholz’s junior coalition partner, Finance Minister Christian Lindner, was more circumspect.

“No matter who governs in the White House, we have an overriding interest in cooperating across the Atlantic, economically, politically and also in matters of security,” he said in London on Monday. “Only when Europe takes responsibility for its own security, only when we are once again competitive on the world stage as an economy, will we be an attractive counterpart at eye level for Washington, regardless of who is in power there.”

--With assistance from Sonja Wind, Alessandra Migliaccio and Zoe Schneeweiss.

(Updates with comments from Lindner starting in penultimate paragraph)

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