German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has responded to accusations by former President Donald Trump that led to concerns about the strength of NATO. In a speech, Scholz criticized what he called the “relativization” of the alliance’s mutual defense clause, stating that it is dangerous and only serves Russia.
Scholz did not mention Trump by name, but his comments came after Trump suggested that the US might not defend NATO allies against a potential Russian invasion if they were not spending enough on defense. “Any relativization 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 that NATO’s defense clause is only in Russia’s interest. He emphasized the importance of strengthening ties between Europe and its allies against Russian aggression. Tusk echoed this sentiment during a speech in Paris and Berlin, stating that there is no alternative to strengthening Europe’s security and joining as allies against Russian aggression.
The controversy surrounding Trump’s remarks emerged 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 towards this benchmark after receiving criticism from Trump while he was in power.
In response to the conflict in Ukraine, Germany has increased its defense spending and is anticipated to reach the designated benchmark this year.