President Emmanuel Macron of France has described Nato as “brain” dead, stressing what he sees as waning commitment to the transatlantic alliance by its main guarantor, the US.
Interviewed by the Economist, he cited the US failure to consult Nato before pulling forces out of northern Syria.
He also appeared to cast doubt on whether Nato members were still committed to collective defence.
Nato has responded by saying the alliance remains strong.
It celebrates 70 years since its founding at a London summit next month.
“What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of Nato,” Mr Macron told the London-based newspaper.
He warned European members that they could no longer rely on the US to defend the alliance, established at the start of the Cold War to bolster Western European and US security.
Article Five of Nato’s founding charter stipulates that an attack on one member will produce a collective response from the alliance.
But Mr Macron appeared unsure whether it was still valid when asked. “I don’t know,” he said.
The alliance, Mr Macron is quoted as saying, “only works if the guarantor of last resort functions as such. I’d argue that we should reassess the reality of what Nato is in the light of the commitment of the United States”.
The French leader urged Europe to start thinking of itself as a “geopolitical power” to ensure it remained “in control” of its destiny.