German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has hit back at accusations by Donald Trump that have led to concerns about the strength of NATO. In a speech, Scholz called out what he referred to as the “relativisation” of the alliance’s mutual defense clause, stating that it was dangerous and only benefited Russia.
Scholz did not mention Trump by name, but his comments came after the former US president suggested that the US might not defend NATO allies against a potential Russian invasion if they were not spending enough on defense. “Any relativisation of NATO’s guarantee of assistance is irresponsible and dangerous,” Scholz stated.
Following a meeting with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Scholz reiterated his stance on the importance of NATO’s mission, emphasizing that all members should be committed to defending each other “all for one, one for all.” This echoes Tusk’s own statement regarding the importance of strengthening Europe’s security and joining as allies against Russian aggression.
Tusk highlighted in Paris and Berlin that there is no alternative to strengthening ties between Europe, NATO and the United States in light of growing security concerns. As the war in Ukraine nears its third year, strengthening ties has become increasingly vital.
The controversy surrounding Trump’s remarks arose during a campaign rally when he suggested that he would potentially encourage Russia to invade NATO allies who were not meeting the defense spending target. NATO members are expected to dedicate 2% of their national income to defense, and Germany has been working to reach that benchmark after drawing criticism from Trump while he was in power. In response to the invasion of Ukraine, Berlin has stepped up its defense spending and is anticipated to reach the designated benchmark this year.