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Donald Trump vows to stay in Nato as president - as long as Europe ‘plays fair’

Donald Trump said the US would “100 per cent” stay in Nato and defend its members if Europe “plays fair” should he win the upcoming election.

He made this reassurance after Nigel Farage questioned him about last month’s controversial comments which saw the former president say that Russia “can do whatever it wants” to Nato countries who do not pay their fair share.

Trump called this line a “negotiation tactic” in the friendly GB News interview which aired on Tuesday night, asking why members would pay their bills if they know they will receive protection anyway.

He doubled down when he said: “Why should we guard these countries that have a lot of money? The United States was paying for most of Nato.

“I went to the first meeting early in my administration, and I saw what was going on and I said, you're going to have to pay your bills, everybody.

“And the second meeting, I hit them hard. And the question was asked by the head of a major country in front of everyone else, 28 countries at the time, including us, they said, so if we don't pay our bills, are you going to protect us from Russia?

Trump spoke to Nigel Farage in a GB News interview (GB News)
Trump spoke to Nigel Farage in a GB News interview (GB News)

“I said: ‘You mean you're delinquent? You're not paying the bills? We're not going to do it. We're not going to defend you. If you're not paying your bills, we're not going to defend you.’ It's very simple. And hundreds of billions of dollars came flowing in.”

“I believe the United States was paying 90% of Nato, that could be 100%. It was the most unfair thing and don't forget, it's more important to them than it is to us. We have an ocean in between. We have a nice big, beautiful ocean. And it's more important for them, they will take advantage. And they did.”

But Mr Farage asked: “So if they start to play fair, America's there?” And Trump answered: “Yes, 100 per cent”.

He also claimed that “a lot of money has come in” from Nato countries since he made the comments about allowing Russia to do “whatever it wants”.

Nato members do not pay to belong to the alliance but Trump’s main complaints have been about how much they put into their own military budgets.

This is a concern that has been shared by several other US presidents, including Barrack Obama whose administration was part of the 2014 agreement that saw NATO countries commit to moving “toward” two per cent of their GDP on national defence.

Many European countries have recently upped their military spending amid the Russia-Ukraine war.

Vladimir Putin, who has just won his fifth term as Russian president, previously said he would prefer to see Joe Biden in the White House than Trump.

"Biden, he's more experienced, more predictable, he's a politician of the old formation," the Russian leader, who has a long history of playing mind-games with Western audiences, said in an interview on state TV.

"But we will work with any US leader whom the American people trust,” he added.

Mr Trump boasted in response: "Putin is not a fan of mine."

The Republican in 2019 survived an attempt by Democrats in Congress to impeach him for seeking to block Ukraine aid after his alleged “collusion” with Russia in the 2016 election campaign, and was widely slammed for cosying up to Putin at a Helsinki summit in 2018.

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the transatlantic alliance's European states would invest a combined total of $380 billion in defence this year, taking their spending as a whole to an estimated 2 per cent of their combined GDP in 2024 compared to 1.85 per cent in 2023.