Trump election could threaten Nato and strengthen Russia say experts

Newspaper report Donald Trump's win. Picture by Matt Dunham, Associated Press
Shaun Connolly and David Hughes, Press Association

DEFENCE experts have warned that the election of Donald Trump could threaten the future of the Nato alliance and strengthen Vladimir Putin's Russia.

The US president-elect has sparked alarm in Europe with his criticism of the transatlantic alliance, particularly over the failure of many members to invest in their own defence capabilities.

Former RAF chief Sir Michael Graydon suggested that the Trump victory could be the "wake-up call" Europe needs as some countries have been "freeloading" off the US and UK, while former head of the Army General Lord Dannatt called for an increase in UK defence spending.

During the election campaign, Mr Trump suggested that the US would only aid allies "if they fulfil their obligations to us" – raising questions about the future of Nato's Article 5, which commits members to mutual self-defence.

Sir Michael told the BBC Radio Four's Today programme: "I'm concerned about what he has said in regard to Nato. And if you start off from the position that Mr Putin would love to see Nato disintegrate, then some of the things Mr Trump has said takes us quite a long way along that track.

"I think he has hinted that he actually doesn't believe in Nato. So, those are the sort of things that give a lot of hope to Mr Putin.

"And I think a strong statement from him saying he supports Nato, but 'you've got to pay your fair share' would be a rather more helpful approach.

"I think the key to all of this will be if he surrounds himself with good advisers. I think he will find that it is a lot more difficult in a very complex world to do some of the things that he wants to do, and that working with allies will be much better than standing and going back into an isolationist America which is one do the implications of the things he has been saying.

"Russia's already pretty encouraged with the uncertainty that exists in Nato at the moment."

General Lord Dannatt told a newspaper: "We've seen Donald Trump threaten all sorts of things, we should take that threat seriously.

"From a UK point of view we have to think about increasing our own defence expenditure.

"We should actually realise that Trump means it and states have to do more about their own role in Nato. If the US walks away, Nato ceases to exist, almost by definition, so we would have to invent something else. In the context of Brexit that is ridiculous."

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