Germany ‘captive of Russia’, says Trump ahead of NATO summit
Brussels, July 11 (IANS) US President Donald Trump launched a blistering attack on Germany on Wednesday ahead of a NATO summit here, accusing it of being beholden to Russia as it buys energy from Moscow.
"Germany is captive to Russia because it’s getting so much of its energy from Moscow," Trump said at a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, his first since arriving in the Belgian capital.
He arrived in Brussels on Tuesday evening here for the summit scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, after which he is expected to visit Britain and later meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Finland’s capital Helsinki, the Washington Post reported.
Trump went on to complain that the US was expected to "defend them against Russia", despite Germany making "billions of dollars" in energy payments to Moscow. "I think it’s something that NATO has to look at," the US President said.
He earlier protested about Europe’s "lagging defence spending", saying that NATO nations were taking advantage of US military largesse at the same time they were offering unfair trade terms to US businesses.
Trump targeted Germany as it has not met its NATO spending commitments and is beginning construction of a second natural gas pipeline to Russia.
Stoltenberg pushed back on the US President’s comments, saying that while there may be differences of opinion within the alliance, "we are stronger together than apart".
Trump retorted by again asking how the NATO alliance could be stronger when Germany is "making Russia richer".
He also accused Europeans of failing to pay enough for NATO operations. European Council President Donald Tusk accused him of criticising Europe "almost daily", tweeting: "Dear America, appreciate your allies, after all you don’t have that many".
Tusk said the EU spent more than Russia on defence, and as much as China. The US, he added, did not and would not have a better ally than the EU. He reminded Trump that European troops had also fought and died in Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US.
On the Putin summit, Tusk said: "It is always worth knowing who is your strategic friend and who is your strategic problem."