On the first day of the much-anticipated NATO summit, President Donald Trump launched a verbal attack on Germany for its support of the Nord Stream 2 project, saying it is “totally controlled” by Russia.
Trump, who was speaking at a press conference Wednesday morning ahead of a two-day NATO summit, told the treaty organization’s representatives that a number of oil and gas deals had given Moscow far too much influence over Germany.
“Germany is totally controlled by Russia … They will be getting between 60 and 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline, and you tell me if that is appropriate because I think it’s not,” the President said.
The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is an $11 billion project directly connecting Germany with Russia, which critics believe will make Europe more dependent on Russian gas. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is to meet with Trump later today, has insisted it is a private commercial venture.
Trump has opposed the project from its very beginning, saying that the relationship between Moscow and Berlin was “inappropriate” and the energy project “should have never been allowed to have happened.”
“Billions and billions of dollars being paid to the country we are supposed to be protecting you against,” Trump said to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. “Ultimately, Germany will have almost 70 percent of their country controlled by Russia with natural gas,” the President claimed, equating natural gas supply to political control.
He then moved on to criticizing Berlin for not increasing its defense spending, saying it is “a very bad thing for NATO” which needs to be discussed with Germany. “On top of that, Germany is just paying a little bit over 1 percent (on defense) … And I think that is inappropriate also,” he added.
However, Germany is not the only NATO country that has found himself in President Trump’s crosshairs. He has long accused the U.S.’ NATO allies of “freeriding” on Washington’s defense capabilities. In May, Germany pledged to increase its defense spending to 1.5 percent of GDP by 2025, up from a low of 1.1 percent in 2015.