President Donald Trump in pointed remarks ahead of a summit of the military alliance in Brussels, accused fellow Germany of being beholden to Russia because it buys energy from Moscow.
“Germany is a captive of Russia,” Trump said at a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, his first since arriving in the Belgian capital. “It’s very inappropriate.”
Trump complained that the United States is expected to “defend them against Russia,” despite Germany making “billions of dollars” in energy payments to Moscow.
“I think it’s something that NATO has to look at,” Trump said. “Germany is totally controlled by Russia.” This comment was not something Trump should have made considering the tensions between the US and its European allies.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg responded
“The strength of NATO is that despite these differences, we have always been able to unite around our core task to protect and defend each other because we understand that we are stronger together than apart,” Stoltenberg told Trump.
Trump fired back: “How can you be together when a country is getting its energy from the person you want protection against or from the group that you want protection against?”
“Because we understand that when we stand together also in dealing with Russia, we are stronger,” Stoltenberg said.
Trump rejected Stoltenberg’s argument, saying Germany is “making Russia richer” and again repeating his claim that Germany “is captive to Russia,” before White House officials intervened to usher reporters out of the room.