Speaking to Fox News' host Tucker Carlson on Tuesday after returning from his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump was asked the hypothetical question of why American military personnel should go to Montenegro, which joined NATO last year, to defend it if it was attacked.
"I understand what you're saying. I've asked the same question," Trump replied. "Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people…By the way, they're very strong people. They're very aggressive people. They may get aggressive and congratulations, you're in World War III," the president said.
Trump also challenged the conventional wisdom of Russia being America's eternal adversary, a sentiment put forth by politicians on both sides of the aisle in the United States.
"It's sort of incredible, because if you look at World War I and World War II, that was Germany, and in World War II, Russia lost fifty million people and helped us win the war. I was saying to myself the other day 'you know, Russia really helped us.' I'm not pro-Russia, or pro-anybody. I just want to have this country be safe. I don't want nuclear weapons – even people thinking about it. You know Russia and the United States control 90% of the nuclear weapons in the world, and getting along with Russia, and not only for that reason, that's a good thing, not a bad thing," Trump stressed.
President Trump's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday was panned by numerous Republican and Democratic officials, including former Clinton-era secretary of state Madeleine Albright, former CIA chief John Brennan, Republican Arizona Senator John McCain, former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and others. Trump responded to "haters" by suggesting that his political opponents were just upset that he didn't turn the summit into a "boxing match."