Germany is “totally controlled by Russia” due to its North Stream gas pipeline deal with Moscow, U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday ahead of a NATO summit in Brussels, calling the deal “inappropriate.
“I think it’s very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia when you’re supposed to be guarding against Russia and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia,” Trump told NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
The U.S., meanwhile, is “paying a lot of money” to protect France, Germany and everybody, Trump added. “Germany is a rich country … they could increase [defence spending] immediately, tomorrow and have no problem,” he says.
The planned North Stream II gas pipeline would connect Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea.
Eastern European states and Ukraine fear the controversial project by the Russian gas giant Gazprom would cut them off from gas transit in the long run.
Trump travels to Brussels where NATO leaders will attempt to showcase their unity and willingness to act in the face of global threats, including from Russia, as they meet for a summit in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday.
The leaders will try to appease Trump over defence spending, after his repeated criticism of NATO allies for unfair burden sharing, which some fear could lead to the U.S. backing away on its commitment to NATO’s mutual defence clause.
Trump’s visit to Europe comes on the heels of growing tensions between Washington and the continent over steel and aluminium tariffs the U.S. imposed on its allies, and Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.
NATO will want to show unity by signing off on several measures prepared in advance, including a high-readiness initiative that would enable NATO to mobilize 30 land battalions, 30 air squadrons and 30 combat vessels within 30 days.
The measures are the latest step in recent years to ramp up NATO’s defence capabilities in response to perceived aggression from Russia, following the country’s invasion of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014, and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.
The alliance is also launching a new training mission in Iraq and extending its funding for Afghan security forces until 2024 as part of its efforts to fight terrorism.
Also during the summit, Macedonia will receive an invitation to join NATO, after resolving a long-running dispute with neighbouring Greece over the country’s name.