Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that a collapse of the NATO alliance would be a good thing for Moscow, but he doesn't see the 28-member bloc crumbling just yet.
"Well, in a sense that maybe, they should completely be falling apart, that will help," Putin said at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in an interview with NBC News' Megyn Kelly, according to a live translation. "But we don't see that falling apart just yet."
NATO was founded in 1949 as a check on the Soviet Union. In a summit last week, U.S. President Donald Trump alarmed U.S. allies by reprimanding them about their military spending and failing to endorse NATO's mutual defense clause.
Former diplomats and others saw Trump's actions as a potential boon to Russia.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, typically a careful speaker, said at a campaign event that the "times in which we could rely fully on others" — meaning the United States — are "somewhat over."
Putin, who was a KGB agent in the days of the Soviet Union, on Friday questioned NATO's continuing purpose. He added that European countries don't need to boost their military spending "if you're not intending to attack anybody."