US President Donald Trump lashed out at Germany on Wednesday, accusing it being a “captive” of Russia due to its energy reliance, criticism that overshadowed a NATO summit meeting in Brussels.
Meanwhile, Trump urged European nations to double their NATO spending, saying the allies were not contributing enough to the security partnership, Reuters reports.
Having lambasted NATO members for failing to reach a target of spending 2 percent of national income on defense, Trump told fellow leaders in Brussels he would prefer a goal of 4 percent.
That would represent a massive upheaval of budgetary priorities in Europe where Germany and many others have pledged only to reach 2 percent by 2024 or later, the report noted.
At the end of the first session of a two-day summit, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the aim first was to reach 2 percent, but moments later Trump tweeted that allies were undercutting the US on trade and needed to immediately boost spending.
Trump’s comment that Germany was controlled by Russia earned a rebuke from Berlin.
“We are not prisoners, neither of Russia nor of the United States,” Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters.
Earlier, Trump strode into NATO’s new headquarters to shake hands with leaders – but only after publicly railing against Germany at a breakfast meeting with Stoltenberg.
Trump told Stoltenberg Germany was wrong to support an US$11-billion Baltic Sea pipeline to import even more Russian gas while being slow to meet targets for NATO spending.
“We’re supposed to be guarding against Russia, and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia,” Trump said in the presence of reporters.
“We’re protecting Germany, we’re protecting France, we’re protecting all of these countries. And then numerous of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russia where they’re paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russia,” he said. “I think that’s very inappropriate.”
With tensions in the NATO alliance smoldering over Trump’s trade tariffs on European steel, his comments fueled concerns about the US role in keeping the peace that has reigned since World War Two, Reuters noted.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel called for “fair play” and more respect for multilateralism.
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