Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Trump slams Russia's 'captive' Germany over gas deal ahead of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gestures while speaking to U.S. President Donald Trump during their bilateral breakfast Wednesday Trump Slams Germany as Being a 'Captive' to Russia Ahead of NATO Summit
Jeannette Daniel | 12 July, 2018, 01:00

Germany is not a captive of anyone, neither Russian Federation nor the US, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in response to US President Donald Trump's description of his country as a "captive" of Russian Federation. "And I am very happy that we are today unified in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany", she said in an arrival statement at the NATO Summit Wednesday, according to an English translation of her remarks.

"He suggested that countries not only meet their commitment of 2 per cent of their GDP on defense spending, but that they increase it to 4 per cent", Sarah Sanders told reporters.

However, his comment that "Germany is totally controlled by Russia because they are getting 60 to 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline" appeared to misstate German energy use - about 20 percent of which is accounted for by oil and gas imports from Russia. "Must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025".

He made the comments in a tense exchange with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation secretary general Jens Stoltenberg in front of TV cameras over a set piece breakfast that was meant to be a show of unity following Trump's eve-of-summit twitter protest over U.S. spending on the alliance. American officials say the U.S.is itself short of that mark, spending 3.3 percent of its GDP on defense. The U.S. spends the most at 22.1 percent because it has the largest economy.

Asked about Trump calling Germany Russia's "captive", Cornyn said: "I would not choose that word but I understand what he's getting at".

Trump said it was "very inappropriate" that the U.S. is contributing to the defence of Europe when one of its richest countries is supporting a major energy project with Moscow.

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Mr Trump dominated the day and is set to stay in the spotlight as he visits the United Kingdom and prepares for a summit with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Rather, they have committed to raise their own defense budgets to 2 percent of gross domestic product by 2024.

The president made the remarks less a formal proposal, but while urging members to up their contributions and promote fair burden sharing across the organization.

Trump said Germany had shut down coal and nuclear power plants on environmental grounds, increasing dependence, like much of the rest of Europe, on Russian gas.

Not all are on track to meet the 2 percent pledge, and Germany is particularly remiss, though it has beefed up spending by billions of dollars.

Merkel said it was very important to have such exchanges like the meeting she and Trump were having because "after all, we are partners". He's also badgering allies to meet a 2 percent target that only five of the 29 members now meet.

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