Biden calls Trump's Nato remarks 'dumb, shameful and un-American'

Republican front-runner in the 2024 US election said he would not support Nato members who do not spend enough on defence if Russia were to attack them

US President Joe Biden speaks about the aid package for Ukraine at the White House. Reuters
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US President Joe Biden on Tuesday called former president Donald Trump's recent remarks about Nato “dumb” and “un-American”, as he urged the House of Representatives to pass a foreign aid bill that includes billions in assistance for Ukraine and Israel.

At the White House, Mr Biden condemned Mr Trump's comments at the weekend that appeared to give tacit encouragement to Russia to invade any Nato country that was not meeting its commitment of spending 2 per cent of gross domestic product on defence.

“No other president in history has ever bowed down to a Russian dictator," Mr Biden said.

"Let me say this as clearly as I can: I never will. It's dumb. It's shameful. It's dangerous. It's un-American.”

“The whole world heard it and the worst thing is he means it."

Mr Trump, the Republican front-runner in the 2024 US election, was speaking during a political rally in South Carolina on Saturday, appearing to recount a meeting with Nato leaders.

He quoted the president of “a big country” – which he did not identify – asking: “Well, sir, if we don't pay and we're attacked by Russia, will you protect us?

“I said: 'You didn't pay? You're delinquent?' He said: 'Yes, let's say that happened.'

"'No I would not protect you. In fact I would encourage them [Russia] to do whatever the hell they want. You got to pay'.”

Article Five of the Nato treaty stipulates that an attack against one member nation is considered an attack on all.

During his time in the White House from 2017-2021, Mr Trump repeatedly complained about Nato and the fact that many members were not paying the 2 per cent to which they had agreed.

He often said Nato members were taking advantage of US military power.

Mr Biden said that for Mr Trump, “principles never matter".

“Everything is transactional. He doesn’t understand that the sacred commitment we’ve given works for us as well,” Mr Biden said in his remarks.

“In fact, I would remind Trump and all those who would walk away from Nato: Article Five has only been invoked once, just once in Nato history,” he said.

He was referring to the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks that saw the US call on Nato partners to help fight the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Ukraine is not a member of Nato, but the alliance has served as the key organiser of efforts to back Kyiv in its defence against Russia's invasion.

The Senate on Tuesday passed a $95 billion aid package that includes assistance for Israel and Ukraine.

But it is already facing an uphill battle in the lower chamber of Congress, where Trump-aligned Republicans have threatened to kill the bill.

The probable deadlock comes at a critical time for Ukraine in its nearly two-year war with Russia.

The President said Washington “cannot afford to wait any longer” on getting the bill to his desk to sign into law.

The package would provide $14 billion for Israel in its war on Gaza and $9.1 million in humanitarian assistance for Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, Ukraine and other civilians in conflict areas around the world.

Updated: February 13, 2024, 9:42 PM