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'Reckless': Trump's threat to NATO allies sparks fierce backlash in Europe

The former US president and current Republican frontrunner suggested in a South Carolina rally he would "encourage" Russia to attack any NATO country that does not contribute 2% of its GDP to the alliance’s coffers.

He claimed the president of an unnamed "big country" in Europe had asked him: "If we don't pay, and we're attacked by Russia, will you protect us?"

Trump said his response was: "No I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them (Russia) to do whatever the hell they want. You gotta pay. You gotta pay your bills."

Speaking in Brussels on Monday morning, the EU's foreign policy and defence chief Josep Borrell said: "Let’s be serious. NATO cannot be an 'à la carte' military alliance. (It) cannot be a military alliance that works depending on the humour of the President of the US on those days."

"I'm not going to spend my time commenting on any silly idea that comes during this campaign in the US," he added.

Trump's inflammatory comments were also censured by Charles Michel, president of the European Council. "Reckless statements on NATO's security and Art 5 solidarity serve only Putin's interest," Michel said on social media platform X.

Article 5 requires each of the military alliance's 31 countries to come to the aid of any member who becomes a victim of an armed attack. It has been invoked only once in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the US.

"They do not bring more security or peace to the world," Michel went on. "On the contrary, they reemphasise the need for the EU to urgently further develop its strategic autonomy and invest in its defence. And to keep our Alliance strong."

The European Commissioner for the internal market, Thierry Breton, told French TV channel LCI that Trump's comments showed