Trump expressed skepticism over the decades-old defense pact, which obligates member countries to defend any other member country that comes under attack, during an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.
When Carlson asked why the U.S. should protect a country like Montenegro, which joined NATO last year, Trump said he has asked himself the same question.
“Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people,” Trump said. “They’re very aggressive people, and they may get aggressive, and congratulations, you’re in World War III. But that’s the way it was set up.”
Trump also patted himself on the back for NATO’s increased defense spending, taking credit for funds member countries had previously pledged.
“It was very unfair,” Trump said. “They weren’t paying. So not only were we paying for most of it, but they weren’t even paying and we’re protecting them. Add that to your little equation on Montenegro.”
Trump reaffirmed U.S. commitment to the organization last week following a tumultuous NATO summit in Belgium, in which the president initially chastised European partners for not spending enough on defense, sparking fears that he could abandon the alliance.
At a NATO summit in May, Trump appeared to push aside Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic as he made his way to the front of the group. Video of the interaction went viral, with some suggesting Trump was taking his “America First” slogan literally.
Watch Carlson's full interview with Trump below: