|BRUSSELS: US President Donald Trump launched a blistering attack on Germany at the start of a tense NATO summit yesterday, accusing Berlin of being “captive” to Russia and demanding it and other allies immediately step up defence spending, reports AFP.
The two-day meet in Brussels was already shaping up to be the alliance’s most difficult in years, with Europe and the US engaged in a bitter trade spat and Trump demanding that NATO allies “reimburse” Washington for the cost of defending the continent.
European allliance members were braced for criticism from Trump on defence spending, but his furious tirade at what should have been an amicable breakfast meeting appeared to take even NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg by surprise. “Germany is a captive of Russia because it is getting so much of its energy from Russia,” Trump said, taking particular aim at the proposed Nord Stream II pipeline.
“Everybody’s talking about it all over the world, they’re saying we’re paying you billions of dollars to protect you but you’re paying billions of dollars to Russia.” Trump has long complained that European NATO members do not pay enough for their own defence, accusing them of freeloading on America and singling out Germany for particular criticism.
BRUSSELS: Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday said Germany makes “independent decisions”, firing back at US President Donald Trump after he accused Berlin of being a “captive” of Russia, reports AFP.
“I myself have also experienced a part of Germany being occupied by the Soviet Union,” Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany, said as she arrived at a tense NATO summit. “I am very glad that we are united today in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany and that we can therefore also make our own independent policies and make our own independent decisions.”
Trump said on Wednesday that Germany was a “captive” and “controlled” by Russia because of the country’s dependence on Russian gas which is set to increase with the construction of a new pipeline.
Merkel also addressed repeated criticism from Trump over Germany’s military spending, which is below the target level agreed by NATO members.
“Germany owes a lot to NATO,” Merkel added. “The fact that reunification has taken place also has a great deal to do with NATO, but Germany is also doing a great deal for NATO.
“We are the second largest provider of troops, we put most of our military capabilities at the service of NATO,” she said.