PRAGUE -- A former adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, said that NATO countries need to start paying more to protect themselves against Russia, though he added that China is the biggest threat.
Bannon said at an event held in Prague on May 22 that if European countries are "so worried about Russia, pay up." He added that Russia is not the greatest threat to Europe and is "not even in the top 5."
Bannon, who was Trump's chief strategist and senior counselor for seven months last year, said that although Russia is a "kleptocracy" run by "bad guys who do bad things.... There are a lot of places like that." He added that the biggest geostrategic threat to the world is China.
"The hate against Russia is 10 times what it was then [during the Cold War]," Bannon said. "It is going to take wisdom, and courage, and tenacity, but somehow...we're going to have to end the Cold War. Russia's economy today is the size of Italy's. It's smaller than [the economy of] New York state. We've made [the Russians] 10 feet tall. They're not 10 feet tall."
Bannon said Europe should stop being a "protectorate" of the United States and said it is "demeaning" for the United States, considering the United States' participation in the two world wars -- to come with "a cup in the hand and ask Germany: 'Would you pay your 2 percent [of GDP for NATO]?'"
He was especially critical of Germany, calling the country a "deadbeat" when it comes to the military and adding that German Chancellor Angela Merkel "will go down as the single-worst political figure in the 21st century" because of her immigration policies that allowed some 1 million refugees to enter the country in the past three years.
Bannon appeared at the Prague forum with former Hillary Clinton campaign adviser Lanny Davis. It was sponsored by a Czech defense contractor.