In a statement sent on the heels of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s impassioned address to the United States Congress on Wednesday, Donald Trump boasted about making the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) “rich.”

‘People forget so quickly, thanks to Fake News, that it was me who got the 20 out of 28 delinquent NATO countries to start paying the money they owed in order to rebuild a floundering NATO,’ the ex-president said through his Save America PAC.

‘No one could have predicted how quickly things would change, but NATO was poor and now it is rich, and all of the Fake News commentators who said Trump was tearing down NATO should be ashamed of themselves for lying.’ He reiterated his previous complaints that the US’s European trading partners were taking ‘advantage’ of the situation.

Even before taking office, the former president called NATO, the Western defense alliance formed in response to the Soviet Union, ‘obsolete.’

In 2019, it was reported that Trump wanted to withdraw from NATO entirely, which would have severely weakened and possibly destroyed the alliance.

‘Not only was the US being taken advantage of by the EU in terms of trade, but it was also being forced to pay the costs of the many delinquent NATO countries.’ ‘While Bush and Obama did nothing but give speeches and talk, I acted, and I acted strongly,’ Trump continued. ‘I told them, if you don’t pay up, you won’t have any protection.’ They all paid, and they paid quickly. It’s a story that never gets reported, but that’s only because our country has a corrupt press!’

NATO has emerged as a major theme in the aftermath of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s devastating and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Cities such as Kyiv, Mariupol, and Kharkov have been subjected to near-constant Russian bombardment, razing entire apartment blocks and public structures and slaughtering civilians on sight.

Some of the ex-harshest president’s critics claim that his public criticism of NATO emboldened Putin to launch an attack.

Ukraine has long sought membership in NATO, but allies have been hesitant to extend their protection for fear of provoking Russia. Officials in Moscow have stated unequivocally that Ukraine’s membership in NATO would be viewed as a threat to its national security. One of Russia’s main demands for the end of its aggressive assault is a guarantee that it will never happen.

President Joe Biden has repeatedly stated that no American troops would engage Russian soldiers on the ground in Ukraine, citing Kyiv’s non-NATO membership.

During his speech to US lawmakers on Wednesday morning, Zelensky advocated for a US and NATO-enforced no-fly zone over Ukraine, something he has been pleading for since nearly the beginning of Putin’s attack.

During a speech to the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force on Tuesday, he stated that Ukraine must accept that it will not join NATO and must rely on itself and its partners. Trump’s statement came as Zelensky was wrapping up his plea to the US Congress.

The former president was impeached for withholding nearly $400 million in military aid for Ukraine in 2019, obstructing Zelensky’s announcement of an investigation into then-candidate Biden and his son Hunter.

However, at a rally in South Carolina last weekend, he claimed that Russia’s inhumane invasion of Ukraine was Biden’s fault.

Biden is scheduled to attend a NATO summit in Brussels next week to “discuss ongoing deterrence and defense efforts” in Ukraine.

He’ll attend the summit on March 24 and also attend a European Council meeting, according to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday. Concerns about Ukraine, including trans-Atlantic efforts to impose economic costs on Russia, provide humanitarian assistance to those affected by the violence, and address other challenges related to the conflict,’ said Psaki.

However, Donald Trump Jr., the former president’s son, believes his father would be better suited for the negotiations.

‘Sending Biden to Europe for ‘High Stakes’ NATO talks will embolden our adversaries even more. ‘Send Trump if you want something done right,’ Don Jr. wrote on Twitter.