If elected, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump may decide that the United States will not support certain NATO members if they are attacked by Russia.
Trump, specifically referring to the Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, told The New York Times in a July 20 interview that if they have not fulfilled their obligations to the United States, the country may not defend them against Russia, according to Bloomberg.
Ojar Kalnins, who chairs the foreign affairs committee in Latvia’s parliament, said Trump’s remarks are “both dangerous and irresponsible.”
“This won’t be good for NATO unity or the security situation. In principle, he is saying the U.S. will not fulfill its promises or obligations,” Kalnins said.
“Estonia’s commitment to our NATO obligations is beyond doubt and so should be the commitments by others,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mariann Sudakov told Bloomberg in an email.
While campaigning in April, Trump criticized NATO and called it obsolete.
His most recent remarks come just two weeks after the NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland, when the 28-member organization agreed to enhance deployment of forces in Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia in order to deter Russia from invading after its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
Trump wants to see these “extremely rich” NATO countries reimburse the United States for the “tremendous cost” of defending them.
“I would be absolutely prepared to tell those countries, ‘Congratulations, you will be defending yourself,” he said.
The White House reacted to Trump’s statement by emphasizing the commitment of the United States in NATO.
"There should be no mistake or miscalculation made about this country’s commitment toward the trans-Atlantic alliance,” spokesman Josh Earnest said July 21.
In the interview, Trump also addressed the failed military coup in Turkey, stating that he would not criticize the country for cracking down on political opponents and restricting civil liberties, according to The Sacramento Bee.
“[The U.S. has no] right to lecture [other countries when] people are shooting policemen in cold blood.”