For years, Germany has gotten away with skimping on its defense obligations, while simultaneously empowering rogue regimes that are adversaries to the NATO alliance. President Trump arrived in Brussels Wednesday with a harsh wake-up call for Berlin.
At the NATO summit in Brussels, President Trump took issue with Germany’s cozying up to Vladimir Putin’s Russia, in addition to its empty promises regarding military spending and military readiness.
Bilateral Breakfast with NATO Secretary General in Brussels, Belgium… pic.twitter.com/l0EP3lzhCM
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 11, 2018
“I have to say, I think it’s very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia where we’re supposed to be guarding against Russia,” Trump said at a breakfast with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg. “We’re supposed to protect you against Russia, but they’re paying billions of dollars to Russia and I think that’s very inappropriate.”
The president held Germany to account for its seeming unwillingness to pay its fair share toward the NATO defense spending threshold of two percent of GDP. Germany claims it has a plan to get to 1.5 percent by sometime in the next decade, which President Trump slammed as an unserious, apathetic plan.
In his remarks, the president castigated Germany for its impending “massive oil and gas deal with Russia,” warning that such a deal would make Berlin completely out-leveraged by the Kremlin, to the extent that Germany would be “captive to Russia.”
The Merkel-Putin Nord Stream II pipeline project would have devastating effects for the NATO alliance and deterrence against Russian aggression.
In a report published last month for the Heritage Foundation, defense experts Luke Coffey and Daniel Kochis explained:
The Nord Stream II pipeline project that would connect Germany with Russia is neither economically necessary, nor is it geopolitically prudent. Rather, it is a political project to greatly increase European dependence on Russian gas, magnify Russia’s ability to use its European energy dominance as political trump card, and specifically undermine U.S. allies in Eastern and Central Europe.
It’s not just conservative institutions raising alarm bells about Germany’s coziness with Russia. The past administration also warned about the pipeline deal and how it could position Moscow with unchecked geopolitical dominance over Eastern Europe.
Later in the day, Merkel attempted to repudiate and dismiss President Trump’s comments by noting that she was proud of an independent Germany, having gone through her personal experience of growing up in East Germany, which was under Soviet control. However, by all indications, the German chancellor was more than receptive to Soviet control. Merkel failed to mention that she was a Marxist-Leninist youth education leader during her upbringing in East Germany.
On the next stop of his European trip, the president will arrive in the United Kingdom Thursday.