Donald Trump says Germany is ‘totally controlled by Russia’

US president launches sharp attack on ‘Russian captive’ ally ahead of Nato summit

US president Donald Trump has hit out at Germany, saying Berlin had become "a captive to Russia". Video: Donald Trump/The White House

 

US president Donald Trump launched a sharp public attack on Germany on Wednesday for supporting a Baltic Sea gas pipeline deal with Russia, saying Berlin had become “a captive to Russia”. He also reitereated his criticism of Germany for failing to raise defence spending more.

Mr Trump, meeting reporters with Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, before a Nato summit in Brussels, said it was “very inappropriate” that the United States was paying for European defence against Russia while Germany, the biggest European economy, was supporting gas deals with Moscow.

Mr Trump was due to meet German chancellor Angela Merkel at the summit later in the day and will meet Russian president Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday.

Berlin has given political support to the building of a new, €9 billion pipeline to bring Russian gas across the Baltic Sea called Nord Stream 2, despite qualms among other EU states. However, Dr Merkel insists the project is a private commercial venture and is not funded by German taxpayers.

“When Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia,” Mr Trump said to Stoltenberg. “We’re supposed to be guarding against Russia and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia.

“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.

“So we’re supposed to protect you against Russia and you pay billions of dollars to Russia and I think that’s very inappropriate,” Mr Trump said at the residence of the US ambassador in Brussels.

“Germany will have almost 70 per cent of their country controlled by Russia with natural gas. You tell me, is that appropriate?,” he asked, while Mr Stoltenberg listened.

“Germany is totally controlled by Russia, because they are getting 60 to 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline,” the US president said.

Nato allies

At one point Mr Stoltenberg, a former prime minister of Norway, pointed out that the Nato allies in Europe disagreed among themselves on ways to reduce the continent’s reliance on Russian gas.

Mr Trump renewed his call for other Nato allies to pay in more to the Western alliance after years in which US taxpayers have, he said, borne an “unfair” share of military spending.

“I think these countries have to step it up, not over a 10 year period, they have to step it up immediately. Germany is a rich country, they talk about increasing it a tiny bit by 2030. Well they could increase it immediately, tomorrow, and have no problem,” Mr Trump said.

“If you look at it, Germany is a captive of Russia. They got rid of their coal plants, they got rid of their nuclear, they’re getting so much of their oil and gas from Russia. I think it is something Nato has to look at. It is very inappropriate.”

Germany’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas, shot back at Mr Trump. “We are not prisoners, neither of Russia nor of the United States,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a Nato summit. “We are one of the guarantors of the free world and that will stay that way.”

He added that Berlin planned an increase in defence spending of 80 per cent by 2024, saying “that is of such a magnitude that it should be recognised”. – Reuters