132752

World  

Trump on offensive

In a combative start to his NATO visit, President Donald Trump asserted Wednesday that a pipeline project has made Germany "totally controlled" by and "captive to Russia" and blasted allies' defence spending, opening what was expected to be a fraught summit with a list of grievances involving American allies.

Trump, in a testy exchange with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, took issue with the U.S. protecting Germany as it strikes deals with Russia.

"I have to say, I think it's very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia where we're supposed to be guarding against Russia," Trump said at breakfast with Stoltenberg. "We're supposed to protect you against Russia but they're paying billions of dollars to Russia and I think that's very inappropriate."

The president appeared to be referring to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that would bring gas from Russia to Germany's northeastern Baltic coast, bypassing Eastern European nations like Poland and Ukraine and doubling the amount of gas Russia can send directly to Germany. The vast undersea pipeline is opposed by the U.S. and some other EU members, who warn it could give Moscow greater leverage over Western Europe.

Trump said "Germany, as far as I'm concerned, is captive to Russia" and urged NATO to look into the issue.

Stoltenberg pushed back, stressing that NATO members have been able to work together despite their differences. "I think that two world wars and the Cold War taught us that we are stronger together than apart," he told the president, trying to calm tensions.

Trump later tweeted a video of the exchange.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also pushed back as she arrived at NATO headquarters for the summit shortly before the president, insisting that Germany makes its own decisions.

"I've experienced myself a part of Germany controlled by the Soviet Union 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," she said.

The criticism was an unusual one coming from Trump, who has appeared eager to cozy up to Putin and who has dismissed the U.S. intelligence community's assessment that Russia tried to undermine Western democracy by meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to help Trump win. During the campaign, Trump often resorted to the tactic of falsely accusing his opponents of things he had been criticized for doing.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced hours after the tit-for-tat over Germany that Trump would meet later Wednesday with Merkel, as well as with French President Emmanuel Macron. Journalists will not be allowed to cover either meeting, she said.

The dramatic exchange set the tone for what was already expected to be a tense day of meetings with leaders of the military alliance. Trump is expected to continue hammering jittery NATO allies about their military spending during the summit, which comes amid increasingly frayed relations between the "America first" president and the United States' closest traditional allies.



More World News

World
134869
London Webcam
Webcam provided by webcams.travel
56309
Recent Trending
134782
Okanagan Oldies
134574
Castanet Proud Member of RTNDA Canada
134574



133564
134233