Donald Trump launched an extraordinary tirade against Germany on the opening day of the Nato summit, accusing Berlin of being “a captive of the Russians” because of its dependency on energy supplies.
Trump, at his first meeting of the summit – with the Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg – described the relationship between Germany and Russia as “inappropriate”.
Nato officials had been nervously awaiting the first meeting as an indicator of how Trump, who arrived in Brussels on Tuesday night, was going to behave over the next two days. Within minutes, they had their answer.
This summit is shaping up as the most divisive in Nato’s 69-year-old history. Normally the Nato summit is mostly fixed in advance, and proceed in an orderly fashion. Trump’s first words signalled this one is not going to be like this.
He complained that German politicians have been working for Russian energy companies after leaving politics and described this as inappropriate as well. Germany is totally controlled by Russia, Trump said.
His comments were linked to the president’s push for other European countries to pay more for its defence needs, in particular Germany. The US should not have to pay the biggest share of Nato defence expenditure while Germany paid just over 1% of GDP.
“I think it is unfair,” Trump said. Other presidents have raised European defence spending levels in the past but he is intent on dealing with it. “We can’t put up with it,” he said.
Germany’s plan to increase its defence expenditure to the Nato target of 2% of GDP by 2030. was not good enough, Trump said, adding: “They could do it tomorrow.”
This story originally appeared in The Guardian. Image courtesy of Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP.