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US NATO Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison, US Government
Brussels

Merkel denies Trump’s allegations of Russia’s ‘total control’

Chancellor Merkel has rejected US President Donald Trump's allegation of political dependence on Russia. Germany could "make its own policy and make its own decisions," said Merkel on her arrival at the NATO summit in Brussels.

Published: July 12, 2018, 10:11 am

    Previously, Trump had accused Germany of being under “total control” of Moscow because of its high dependence on Russian gas. Trump criticised the construction of another gas pipeline between Vyborg and Greifswald in a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Reuters reported.

    Germany is a “prisoner of Russia” because it receives at least 60 percent of its energy from there, Trump argued. According to the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, in 2016 Germany received about a quarter of the energy consumed from Russia and Kazakhstan.

    Some 15 percent of the primary energy came from Russian and Kazakh oil. Seven percent was produced from Russian natural gas. Three percent was won from Russian and Kazakh coal.

    Moreover, the Federal Republic does not spend enough on defense, the American president complained. Germany pays Russia billions for gas, but at the same time it has to be defended by NATO, said the US president before the start of the NATO summit in Brussels.

    Trump once again called on all NATO countries, and especially Germany, to increase defense spending to two percent of gross domestic product (GDP). “Germany pays one percent, the US pays four percent. And Europe benefits much more from NATO than the US.”

    The majority of Germans, however, is against an increase in wastage. This was starkly shown in a survey by the polling institute YouGov. Only 15 percent of German citizens are in favor of an increase above the 1.5 percent mark until 2024. This goal was pledged by Merkel before the summit of 29 NATO members. Currently, Germany spends about 1.2 percent.

    Only one in four Germans thought the payments were appropriate. More than a third spoke in favor of a smaller expenditure for Germany.

    The NATO states in 2002 set themselves the goal in Prague of investing two per cent of GDP in defense. That meant that Germany would then have to invest about 70 billion euros in the Bundeswehr.

    In 2014, all members of the defense alliance reaffirmed this goal. Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) had recently increased the Bundeswehr budget for 2019 to 42.9 billion euros.

    Uncertainty over the future of the alliance still remains. During the plenary session, Trump suddenly called on fellow alliance members to spend 4 percent of GDP on defense, rather than the agreed-upon 2 percent.

    Shortly thereafter, he raised the prospect of a trade war over German cars, migration and Russian President Vladimir Putin, but said the two countries had a “good relationship”. One hour later, on the way to dinner, he tweeted critical remarks about Germany and NATO.

    The conflicting messages from Trump, tying trade deficits to US national security and NATO spending to Russian energy, has baffled most Europeans.

    Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday, called the military alliance “useless,” after it blamed Moscow for provocative activities near the bloc’s borders.

    “While the useless NATO military bloc is accusing us of provocative activities and is gnashing its teeth in Brussels, we are preparing to watch 2018 World Cup,” the ministry tweeted.

    The NATO declaration states that “Russia’s aggressive actions, including the threat and use of force to attain political goals, challenge the Alliance and are undermining Euro-Atlantic security and the rules-based international order,” but adding that the bloc remains open to dialogue with Moscow.

    US NATO Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison in an interview with Fox News said that Russia was attempting to “flip” Turkey and a number of other NATO members.

    NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg said that the US and Europe are “stronger together than apart” and that has been proven by two World Wars and the alliance’s dealings with Russia.

    But Trump told him in response, “No, you’re just making Russia richer. You’re not dealing with Russia, you’re making Russia richer.”

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