The Associated Press BRUSSELS (AP) — Under fire for his warm embrace of Russia’s Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump jolted the NATO summit Wednesday by turning a spotlight on Germany’s ties to Russia and openly questioning the value of the military alliance that has defined American foreign policy for decades.
Trump declared that a joint natural gas pipeline venture with Moscow has left Angela Merkel’s government “totally controlled” and “captive to Russia.” So, in a stroke, he shifted attention away from his own ties to the Kremlin just days before he meets one-on-one with Putin.
With scorching language, the president questioned the necessity of the alliance that formed a bulwark against Soviet aggression, tweeting after a day of contentious meetings: “What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy?”
German Chancellor Merkel hit back immediately, not only denying Trump’s contention but suggesting that his comfortable upbringing in the U.S. gave him no standing to spout off on the world stage about Germany.
Drawing on her own background growing up in communist East Germany behind the Iron Curtain, she said:
“I’ve experienced myself a part of Germany controlled by the Soviet Union, and I’m very happy today that we are united in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany and can thus say that we can determine our own policies and make our own decisions and that’s very good.”
Trump demanded by public tweet that members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization “must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025” for their military efforts. He then rattled U.S. allies further by privately suggesting member nations should spend 4 percent of their gross domestic product on the military — more than even the United States currently pays, according to NATO statistics.Speech