Trump on Sunday said Russia has not be “good” to the United States and warned against the “worse side” of the Kremlin, the New York Times reported.
“I don’t know why the Russian government would be so hostile to the U.S.,” Trump said in an interview with The Times.
“They’ve been very, very bad to us.
They’ve been bad to NATO and have been bad in many other ways.
But they have not been the worst.”
The comments came as Trump faced questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee about his call to NATO allies to pay their fair share to defend the alliance from Russian aggression.
Trump said the U,S.
should be willing to “pay our fair share” to NATO.
“We’re not going to be getting any money from NATO and if they want to pay a bit more, we’ll be happy to,” Trump said, adding that “we will be paying our fair shares.”
“We have to pay what we owe to NATO, and if we can’t pay, that’s OK,” he added.
Trump’s comments came amid a broader debate over Russia’s intentions toward NATO allies.
The U.K. and Estonia both withdrew their ambassadors from Moscow earlier this week, amid growing tensions over the crisis in Ukraine and the escalating violence between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
The Russian government has also sent military forces into Ukraine, and the country’s parliament has passed a law allowing it to use military force against separatists in the region.
“It’s very clear that Russia wants to see NATO go down the drain,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“It seems to me that that’s what Putin wants, and it’s what we all want, but we also have to remember that Russia has no business being in Europe.
Russia’s a thug.”
The Russian embassy in Washington, D.C., has said it is working to resolve tensions over NATO.
But the Kremlin has been reluctant to publicly criticize its allies.
In an interview last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin called NATO’s response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea a “provocation” and accused NATO of “imposing its will on Russia.”
In an address to the country in October, Putin called the alliance “the most dangerous entity” he had ever encountered and said it was “the enemy of the people of Europe.”