Trump says Germany is captive of Russia
US President Donald Trump accused Germany of being a 'captive' of Russia on Wednesday in a startling outburst against one of Europe's main military powers at a Nato summit where he was pressing allies to pay more for their own defence.
Trump told Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that Germany was wrong to support a new $11-billion Baltic Sea pipeline to import Russian gas while being slow to meet targets for Nato spending to protect against Russia.
"We're supposed to be guarding against Russia and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia," Trump said in the presence of reporters at a pre-summit meeting at the residence of the US ambassador to Belgium.
Trump, who later arrived in his presidential limousine at Nato's new billion-dollar headquarters, appeared to substantially overstate German reliance on Russian energy and to imply the German government was funding the pipeline, which German Chancellor Angela Merkel says is a commercial venture.
She hit back at Trump's remark that "Germany is totally controlled by Russia" through gas imports by contrasting her own experience of growing up in Soviet-controlled East Germany with the sovereign, united Germany now playing a major role in Nato.
Trump and Merkel later held what seemed businesslike talks on the sidelines.
Trump said he had a "very, very good relationship" with Merkel, who described the two as "good partners".
Stoltenberg later said that Trump had used "very direct language" but that all Nato allies were agreed that the cost of defence spending must be spread around and that last year had seen the biggest increase in a generation.