Donald Trump pushes North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies to double their defence spending

Clay Curtis
July 12, 2018

Trump took issue with Nord Stream 2, a new $11-billion pipeline to bring Russian gas across the Baltic Sea that Berlin has supported despite qualms from other European Union states.

Trump is reportedly considering imposing sanctions on the five European countries involved in the pipeline project.

President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have met after the USA leader publicly lambasted the longtime ally over its spending on national defense and a Russian oil pipeline.

He also sharply criticized Germany's relationship with Russian Federation.

Previous U.S. presidents have been raising the same issues in Brussels and Berlin for decades, sometimes in blunt words; President Barack Obama also complained about European "free riders".

"President Trump has a very direct language and message on defence spending, but fundamentally we all agree that we need fair burden sharing", Stoltenberg said on his arrival at the summit. At breakfast he had spoken of Germany as a "captive" of Russian Federation because of the two countries' energy relationship, which he labelled "inappropriate". Merkel fired back by reminding Trump that she grew up in Soviet-controlled East Germany. "If we look at the gas pipeline, Germany is an independent country".

President Trump has been making plenty of claims about how much the US contributes to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation while portraying other members of the alliance as deadbeats.

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TRT World's Simon McGregor-Wood has more details.

Environmental-conscious Germany is trying to reduce its reliance on coal and is phasing out nuclear power by 2022, so it hopes to use natural gas to partially fill the gap until the country's electricity grid can cope with fluctuating levels provided by renewable energy. "We have a tremendous relationship with Germany", he said. He also alluded to "other countries" with trade barriers against the his criticism.

Jens Stoltenberg told reporters: "I think we should first get to 2%, focus on that now. the good thing is that we are moving to that".

Though the insult will hardly engender warmth from German chancellor Angela Merkel, who Trump is due to meet later today, German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen seemed relatively unperturbed.

In his statement posted on Twitter, Kerry said Trump's broadside against an American ally had weakened the United States.

"I think these countries have to step it up, not over a 10 year period, they have to step it up immediately".

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