DONALD TRUMP THREW the NATO summit in Brussels into chaos on Wednesday by pressing send on an inflammatory tweet in which he demanded that Germany and other European nations should all-caps “IMMEDIATELY” increase their spending on defense.
By claiming that the U.S. “is paying for Europe’s protection, then loses billions on trade,” Trump returned to the complaint he first aired in 1987, in an open letter attacking the Reagan administration for not requiring American allies to pay more for their defense.
Trump posted the tweet after informing other NATO leaders that he wanted them to spend
twice the previously agreed target of 2 percent of their gross domestic products on defense.
At the start of the day, Trump had dispensed with polite formalities and stunned the alliance’s leader by claiming that “Germany, as far as I’m concerned, is captive to Russia” as a result of a new pipeline to import Russian natural gas.
Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, looked taken aback at Trump’s blunt, public attack on a key U.S. ally. As a result of the gas deal, Trump claimed, “Germany is totally controlled by Russia.”
In case German Chancellor Angela Merkel might have missed Trump’s tirade, the American president posted a White House recording of the comments on Twitter.
Video of the entire exchange, posted on YouTube by both the White House and RT, the Kremlin-financed news network, showed that Trump also said Germany “should’ve never have been allowed” to strike a multibillion dollar deal with Gazprom, the state-controlled Russian gas company. The German government recently agreed to let Gazprom and its partners build the $10 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline under the Baltic Sea, which gives the Russian state firm a way to provide gas to Western Europe that does not rely on an older pipeline through Ukraine.
Merkel, who grew up in Soviet-dominated East Germany, rejected Trump’s criticism ahead of a meeting with him on Wednesday afternoon.
“I’ve experienced myself a part of Germany controlled by the Soviet Union,” she told reporters, “and I’m very happy today that we are united in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany and can thus say that we can determine our own policies and make our own decisions and that’s very good.”
The chancellor also rejected Trump’s claim that the U.S.