Trump Wants Us to Remember He Saved NATO and Ukraine

Pay no attention to that man calling Putin “smart.” Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Like many in the media, I shrugged when Donald Trump was banned from Twitter as I’m generally against inciting violence and spending significant chunks of each day deciphering his 280-character tirades. But maybe I’m missing something by not being able to hear from Trump directly? The former president’s latest statement on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which reporters instantly screenshotted and posted to Twitter, gave me a lot to think about.

Here’s what Trump said in a statement Monday, two days after simultaneously criticizing the Russian invasion and calling Vladimir Putin “smart” (again) during a speech at CPAC:

I hope everyone is able to remember that it was me, as President of the United States, that got delinquent NATO members to start paying their dues, which amounted to hundreds of billions of dollars. There would be no NATO if I didn’t act strongly and swiftly. Also, it was me that got Ukraine the very effective anti-tank busters (Javelins) when the previous Administration was sending blankets. Let History so note!

Somehow, I did forget about how Trump saved NATO by forcing member nations to pay their dues. In my defense, I got confused by all those reports about how Trump wanted the U.S. to leave the defense pact, which were confirmed on the record by former White House chief of staff John Kelly and former national security adviser John Bolton (who wrote in his book that Trump once declared, “I don’t give a shit about NATO.”) Also Trump’s stance on the issue has always been a bit hard to follow as there are no dues to NATO, and no member countries were “delinquent” in their payments — some just had yet to meet their nonbinding commitment to spend 2 percent of their GDP on their own defense by 2024.

Trump’s incredible generosity toward Ukraine had also slipped my mind. I guess, while covering Trump’s first impeachment, I got really focused on that 2019 phone call in which Volodymyr Zelensky asked about military aid, which the U.S. president had just put on hold. Trump responded, “I would like you to do us a favor though,” and proceeded to pressure the Ukrainian president to investigate Trump’s political rival, Joe Biden. I forgot that during this conversation, Zelensky specifically mentioned Javelin anti-tank missiles, which Trump had (reluctantly) agreed to sell Ukraine a year earlier. My bad!

I’m glad that despite Twitter’s decision to cancel the former president, I can still hear his crucial perspective on this matter. If he hadn’t released this helpful statement, I might have lost track of which facts we’re supposed to ignore today.

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Trump Wants Us to Remember He Saved NATO and Ukraine