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Trump says he warned Nato ally he would let Russia ‘do whatever they want’

Donald Trump has revealed he once told an ally he would “encourage” Russia to attack any Nato member that fails to pay enough into the military alliance.

Speaking at a rally on Saturday, the presidential hopeful claimed to have once told a leader he would not protect a nation behind on its payments, and would “encourage” the aggressors to “do whatever the hell they want”.

Addressing a crowd in South Carolina, he said he had made his comments about Russia during a meeting of Nato leaders.

He claimed the leader of a “big country” had hypothetically asked if the US would come to his country’s aid if he was not meeting his financial obligations within Nato and had come under attack from Moscow.

“I said: ‘you didn’t pay? You’re delinquent?… No I would not protect you, in fact I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You gotta pay,” recalled Mr Trump.

His comments were met with applause from the crowd.

White House spokesman, Andrew Bates, said the former president was “encouraging invasions of our closest allies by murderous regimes”, and labelled the comments “appalling and unhinged”.

He added that the statement “endangers American national security, global security and our economy at home”.

Members of Nato commit to defend any national in the block that gets attacked.

Nato allies agreed in 2014, after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, to halt the spending cuts they had made after the Cold War and move towards spending two per cent of their gross domestic profit on defence by 2024.

Mr Trump often criticised member states who failed to pay the two per cent threshold. As of the most recent figures, 10 of the 30 member states meet the threshold.

Since Russia launched its full scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the US has provided financial support of over £34bn according to White House figures in December.

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