Indian-American Republican presidential aspirant Nikki Haley has said that if voted to power, her administration will not only strengthen the alliance with NATO but also with several other countries including India, Australia, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines. Haley, 52, the former US Ambassador to the UN, said that if former US president Donald Trump is re-elected a threat to the NATO alliance is one of the things she is worried about.

“I’m worried about a lot of things if Trump is re-elected. That is one of them,” she told ABC News, adding that NATO is a 75-year success story.

Haley is the only candidate left against Trump in the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nomination race.

Haley, the two-term former governor from South Carolina, said Russia has never invaded a NATO country because Russia has typically been very intimidated by this alliance.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is an intergovernmental military alliance of 31 member states – 29 European and two North American.

Even China is intimidated by this alliance. So, keeping NATO strong is important, Haley said. Haley was responding to a question on the remarks by Trump in South Carolina a week ago that he would encourage Russia to do “whatever the hell they want” to any NATO member country that doesn’t meet spending guidelines on defence. Adding more friends to the fold is important. This is not the time to leave an alliance. This is not the time to side with a thug and not side with friends, who stood with America after the September 11 attacks, Haley said.

“We have to make sure that we stand firm. Because when we stand firm with our friends, our enemies stay on their heels. When we start to show any weakening of those alliances, that’s when our enemies move. That’s why we’re seeing China on the march. That’s why we’re seeing Iran want to build a nuclear bomb. That’s why we’re seeing Russia start to move towards Poland and the Baltics,” she said.

“And that’s what I promise I will do as president, is we not only will strengthen NATO, we will strengthen alliances with India, Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines. We will add to the fold. This is about America having more friends, not less friends,” Haley said in response to a question.

Haley called Trump’s NATO comments “bone-chilling” and empowering to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“And all he did in that moment was, he sided with a guy who kills his political opponents, he sided with a thug who arrests American journalists and holds them hostage,” she said.

Haley alleged that incumbent President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has also failed on multiple fronts.

“That has emboldened our enemies. That’s why you see them moving. It happened after the fall of Afghanistan. It is continuing to happen. Then they go and they see the other opponent running for – for president and they see that he doesn’t worry about Putin invading Ukraine. So, what does Putin do? He goes and now he’s starting to put soldiers around the Baltics. He’s moving in for the next era,” she said.

“Let’s remind the American people that Putin said once he takes Ukraine, Poland and the Baltics are next. Now he is putting soldiers around those countries, just like he did Ukraine. And if that happens, those are NATO countries. That immediately puts America at war. That is what we are trying to avoid. And that’s why this aid package is so important,” she said.

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