Reduced US engagement in NATO will undermine the military alliance and possibly mean its end, the bloc’s former secretary general, Andres Fogh Rasmussen, told Sputnik on Saturday, APA reports quoting Sputnik.
The former NATO chief described Washington as the only player within the alliance that had enough military strength to ensure that NATO could pursue its policies.
"Of course, if Trump were to reduce his engagement in NATO, it would be dangerous, it would undermine the credibility of our alliance. If the United States will not keep up their commitment then NATO is dead. And for that reason I don't think they will," Rasmussen said on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.
In his Munich speech, US Vice President Michael Pence vowed the nation’s unwavering commitment to the alliance, months after then Republican nominee Donald Trump called NATO obsolete and warned of a US pullout if European allies did not pay their fair share.
Pence reiterated Trump’s demand that EU nations meet their commitment of contributing 2 percent of their gross domestic product to defense, but said the Trump administration would always have faith with them as they do with Washington.
On Wednesday, US Defense Secretary James Mattis threatened to cut US defense commitments unless all NATO members met the spending target. New US President Donald Trump criticized the alliance on numerous occasions during his election campaign, calling it obsolete and vowing to make all members pay their fair share.
Only a handful of NATO members have reached the 2-percent target as of 2016. The United States is the top spender, allocating over 3.6 percent of its GDP on defense, followed by Greece, the United Kingdom, Estonia and Poland. The remaining 23 members are below target.
NATO's overall European defense spending fell at rates of around 2 percent per year until the 2014 Wales summit. In 2015, spending increased 0.6 percent before surging 3 percent in 2016, according to official NATO data.