Germany making deals with Russia which would bring in billions of dollars and then expecting the United States to protect them from Russia is duplicitous behavior, according to Donald Trump at the latest NATO Summit.
The headline, Trump claims Germany ‘totally controlled’ by Russia, by the Associated Press, appears to give a synopsis but neglects to imply the duplicitous nature of the context of the accusation.
This assuredly loud and accusatory statement by President Trump must be considered in context, but can easily be misconstrued.
The issue of Europe’s and most specifically Germany’s relationship with Russia is complex and not easily reduced to a few sentences.
Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has asked for and received a one on one meeting with Trump. With Trump’s confrontational nature and his disdain for the diplomatic avoidance of tough-talking, the meeting should surface most issues bothering both countries. The press, however, and anti-Trumpers, are having a field day taking the statements out of context.
European angst is at an all-time high level, however, because of Trump’s meeting with Putin. On June 29th Trump stated that Crimea was on the table, the statement was later clarified that the United States will never recognize Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea. Accusations, in this context, that Trump will give Russia what it wants are at an all-time high.
The media, with its inherent anti-Trump bias, appears to be taking every opportunity to weave all their stories into this perspective, strongly skewing US domestic readers into believing Trump is in collusion with Putin, which is definitely not the case. ANY concessions by Trump will be presented in a highly negative fashion, as a result of this anti-Trump bias.
This is not professional journalism. This is an assassination and harassment by the media.
ps. The following article by RFE/RL is one of the better pieces on the issue.
Trump Sets Confrontational Tone At Start Of Two-Day NATO Summit
BRUSSELS — The White House says a one-on-one meeting between President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been scheduled at the NATO summit, just hours after Trump furiously criticized Germany over defense spending and accused it of being “captive” to Russia for energy.
Trump set a confrontational tone at the start of NATO’s two-day summit in Brussels on July 11, saying Germany was making natural-gas pipeline deals worth “billions of dollars” with Russia while expecting the United States to “protect them against Russia.”
The dramatic exchange came during a breakfast gathering with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that opened the alliance’s meeting, when Trump said that Germany was “totally controlled by Russia” and “captive to Russia” because of its dependence on natural gas and deals with Moscow like the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
“We’re protecting Germany. We’re protecting France. We’re protecting everybody,” Trump said, adding that “it’s very unfair to our country. It’s very unfair to our taxpayers.”
The White House sad Trump was also scheduled to meet on the sidelines of the summit on July 11 with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Trump urged NATO to look into the issue of Nord Stream 2 — a project that would bring gas from Russia to Germany’s northeastern Baltic coast, bypassing countries like Poland and Ukraine and doubling the amount of gas Russia can send directly to Germany.
Washington and some European Union countries oppose the project, warning that it could give Moscow greater leverage over Western Europe.
Speaking after the one-on-one meeting with Trump was announced, Merkel rejected his criticism of the gas pipeline project with Russia and said Germany could make “independent decisions.”
“I want to say that I have personal experience of [living in] a part of Germany controlled by the Soviet Union and I am 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,” she said.
Stoltenberg also pushed back against Trump’s criticism, stressing that NATO is an alliance of 29 countries that have been able to work together despite their differences — and “the gas pipeline from Russia to Germany is one issue where NATO allies will disagree.”
“I think two World Wars and the Cold War taught us that we are stronger together than apart,” Stoltenberg told Trump.
Speaking to reporters after his morning confrontation with Trump, Stoltenberg said that “there are different views on the Nord Stream pipeline” and that “it’s not for NATO to decide.”
“This is a national decision,” Stoltenberg said. “But NATO has, of course, addressed energy security because we understand that there is a relationship between energy and security matters. We have highlighted the importance of this diversification of supplies to make sure that our energy systems are resilient.”
War Of Words
The summit is shaping up to be one of the most difficult alliance gatherings in years as Trump continues to pressure NATO allies to increase their military spending.
Trump has repeatedly criticized alliance members for their levels of defense spending ahead of the meeting.
In a series of tweets and comments to reporters as he departed Washington, D.C., on July 10, Trump suggested NATO’s other 28 members should “reimburse” the United States for its spending on the alliance.
He also repeated misleading statements about which countries are meeting the alliance’s Defense Investment Pledge, in which each member state is expected to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense, and about when those falling short are expected to meet that goal.
Based on current trends, NATO estimates that 15 member states will meet the benchmark by 2024.
NATO headquarters says the alliance is on track to increase its overall defense spending by 3.8 percent in 2018, and a total of eight members are expected to reach the 2 percent benchmark by the end of 2018.
Stoltenberg, for his part, credited Trump at their July 11 breakfast meeting for pushing NATO countries to increase defense spending — noting that European countries and Canada are expected to “add an extra $266 billion to defense between now and 2024.”
Upon his arrival at the opening breakfast, Trump said that “because of me they’ve raised about $40 billion over the last year. So I think the secretary-general likes Trump. He may be the only one, but that’s OK with me.”
Trump told reporters in Washington on July 10 the United States had “a lot of allies. But we cannot be taken advantage of. We’re being taken advantage of by the European Union.” U.S. spending on NATO “helps them more than it helps us.”
A defense spending level of at least 2 percent of GDP has long been a guideline for each NATO member state, until it was set in 2014 under President Barack Obama as a formal commitment.
NATO headquarters said the alliance is on track to increase its overall defense spending by 3.8 percent in 2018, and a total of eight members are expected to reach the 2 percent guideline by the end of the year.
Trump’s criticism has elicited pushback from NATO and European leaders in the past, and European Council President Donald Tusk chided him on July 10.
“I would like to address President Trump…who for a long time now has been criticizing Europe almost daily for in his view insufficient contributions to the common defense capabilities and for living off the U.S.,” Tusk told a news conference.
“Dear President Trump, America does not have and will not have a better ally than Europe.”
“Dear America, appreciate your allies — after all, you don’t have that many,” Tusk added, and also urged European countries to “spend more on your defense because everyone respects an ally that is well-prepared and equipped.”
Trump’s criticism of the alliance has stood in stark contrast with his warm words for NATO’s main adversary, Russia.
Trump is set to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 16, following the conclusion of the NATO meeting and a trip to Britain.
Asked by a reporter whether Putin was a “a friend or foe,” Trump responded: “I really can’t say right now.
“As far as I’m concerned, he’s a competitor,” he said. “I think that getting along with Russia, getting along with China, is a good thing.”
Of his meetings in Brussels and Britain and with Putin, he said: “Frankly, [the meeting with] Putin may be the easiest of them all — who would think? Who would think?”
Among the responses that Trump and White House officials have suggested if NATO members don’t increase spending is to reduce the U.S. military presence in Europe.
Some alliance members have privately voiced concern that Trump might also pull out of a major upcoming military exercises, including one, Trident Juncture, scheduled for October. Another set for November, called Anakonda, will be testing the alliance response in defending NATO member Poland.
On July 10, U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchinson and the U.S. Senate both sought to allay concerns among allies the United States was backing away from NATO, or from the alliance treaty’s Article 5, which stipulates that an attack on one member state is considered an attack on all.
In a call with reporters, Hutchinson said Trump “is committed to Article 5 protection just as it is in the NATO charter…. And I think that any indication that we’re walking away from the NATO charter and the commitments that we’ve made would be erroneous.
As Trump arrived in Brussels, the U.S. Senate passed by a 97-2 margin a motion to “reaffirm the ironclad U.S. commitment under Article 5 to the collective defense of the alliance.”
Mitch McConnell, who holds wide influence as the Republican leader of the Senate, was asked on July 10 about Trump’s threats to the alliance.
“I’m not worried about Trump pulling out of NATO,” he told reporters.
The NATO summit is also being attended by leaders of so-called NATO partner states that are not members of the alliance.
Stoltenberg said alliance leaders on July 12 will meet with the presidents of Georgia and Ukraine “to address regional challenges” and to “discuss their defense reforms and NATO’s continuing support.”
He said he expected NATO leaders to agree to invite Skopje to start accession talks as a result of a “historic agreement on the name issue” between Greece and Macedonia.
“Once the agreement is finalized and implemented, we will be able to invite the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia to become NATO’s 30th member under its new name — the Republic of North Macedonia.”
The summit closes on July 12 with a meeting by countries involved in the NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.
Ahead of that meeting, British Prime Minister Theresa May anounced on July 11 that Britain will nearly double the number of its forces in Afghanistan.
The deployment in response to a request from NATO would involve an extra 440 troops — bringing Britain’s total commitment to about 1,100 troops, who are assisting Afghan forces in the fight against Taliban and Islamic State militants.
Stoltenberg said he expected the NATO summit will “agree to extend funding for the Afghan forces beyond 2020,” to express full support for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s “bold peace initiative,” and his government’s reforms.