North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit: Donald Trump says Germany is 'captive of Russians'

Remigio Civitarese
Luglio 12, 2018

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) and US President Donald Trump (C) make a statement to the press, in Brussels, on July 11, 2018. "We're supposed to be guarding against Russian Federation, and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russian Federation".

"Explain that", Trump said. "It's very unfair to our taxpayer".

Seemingly intent on hazing German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr. Trump brought up a gas pipeline under construction between Russia and Germany, which could make Western Europe more dependent on Russian energy supplies and which previous administrations have objected to.

Merkel bristled at the idea that the gas deal has left her country "captive" to Moscow.

Merkel told reporters on arrival in Brussels on Wednesday, "I have experienced myself how a part of Germany was controlled by the Soviet Union".

"You know, we're protecting Germany, we're protecting France".

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg noted Wednesday that member countries have already been increasing their defense spending. That is more than current US spending as a proportion of GDP - and Pentagon budgets maintain bases and deploy fleets around the world, something that shouldn't be expected from Estonia or Spain.

On "America's Newsroom", former US ambassador to the United Nations and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) said meeting with Putin is the right move for Trump. "And frankly, many countries owe us a tremendous amount of money for many years back, and they're delinquent, as far as I'm concerned, because the United States has had to pay for them".

Striking a strident tone at the summit, Trump's aspirational target of 4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) was above the United States own spending on defense.

Asked about Mr Trump's suggestion, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he would focus on what has been agreed to.

"That's exactly why all allies agree that those who are spending less than 2% have to spend more and that's exactly what we have started to do".

Trump's White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders confirmed the ask to reporters, claiming that it was not a new position for the US president.

"A strong North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is good for Europe and it's also good for the United States", he said.

With tensions in the Western alliance running high over Trump's trade tariffs on European steel and his demands for more contributions to ease the burden on US taxpayers, the latest remarks fuelled concerns among allies over the USA role in keeping the peace that has reigned since World War II. The House is expected to cast a similar, non-binding vote on Wednesday.

"I am pleased to have this opportunity to be here for this exchange of views", she said, through a translator.

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