U.S. President Donald Trump laced into Germany ahead of a high-stakes NATO leaders’ summit in Brussels, declaring at a breakfast meeting Wednesday morning that Germany is “totally controlled by Russia” and lashing out at the controversial Nordstream 2 gas pipeline project.
Trump’s remarks appeared to stun NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who has been working hard to convince Trump that NATO allies are responding to the president’s repeated demands for increased military spending.
“I think it’s very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia, where you’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 his opening remarks at the breakfast, which were broadcast live on television.
“So we’re protecting Germany, we’re protecting France, we’re protecting all of these countries. And then numerous of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russia where they’re paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russia,” Trump continued. “And I think that’s very inappropriate.”
Trump’s tirade against Germany — the biggest and richest NATO ally after the United States — kicked off the two-day congress of NATO heads of state and government with a combative and deeply negative tone, with the president harping on one of the most deeply divisive issues among NATO allies and within the European Union.
In recent days, European President Donald Tusk repeated his own criticism and opposition to the North Stream 2 project, which Germany and other supporters, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, have defended as a commercial project.
Trump, in his remarks, called out Gerhard Schröder, Germany’s former Chancellor, for his involvement in the pipeline project.
“It should have never been allowed to have happened,” Trump said. “But Germany is totally controlled by Russia. Because they’ll be getting 60 to 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline … I think it’s a very bad thing for NATO and I don’t think it should have happened, and I think we have to talk to Germany about it.”