“It’s really offensive to expect US taxpayers to continue to pay more than 50 000 Americans in Germany, but Germans use their trade surplus for domestic purposes,” Grenell told dpa.
In recent months, the dispute between Berlin and Washington over defense spending by the German Federal government has worsened further. The US government insists on compliance with the NATO two-percent target.
This would mean that Germany would have to spend two percent of its gross domestic product on defense. Currently spending is at 1,2 percent.
Earlier, the US ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, had demanded a transfer of the soldiers to Poland. “Poland meets its obligation to pay two percent of GDP against NATO. Germany does not do that. We would like it if American troops came to Poland from Germany,” she wrote on Twitter.
Only last week, the Federal government rejected an American request for participation in a US mission in the Persian Gulf. As the target of the operation, the Americans called for the protection of oil tankers against the Iranian Navy.
Political parties across the spectrum complained about Grenell’s statements, which were “completely inappropriate” among allies, said the first parliamentary director of the SPD parliamentary group, Carsten Schneider.
In March, Bundestag Vice-President Wolfgang Kubicki (FDP) had already sharply rebuked Grenell for his criticism of the budget planning of the Federal government and even brought the expulsion of the ambassador into play.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) should declare Grenell “Persona non immediately,” Kubicki told the news agency AFP.
Grenell is behaving, “as if the United States still occupying power here,” lamented the FDP politician. But Germany is “a sovereign country”. He added: “It should not be allowed to give the impression that the ambassadors of other countries determine the domestic policy here”.
Specifically, the acting FDP leader had accused Grenell of violating of the Vienna Convention, according to which diplomats have to stay out of a country’s internal affairs. “Mr. Grenell not only says things that are inappropriate for a diplomat, but clearly violates contracts.”
According to Kubicki, there was broad support for his demand in the FDP. “I am sure that my assessment will be shared by a clear majority of my own group.”
The Left Party also demanded that Grenell be declared Persona non Grata. The parliamentary director of the Union faction, Michael Grosse-Brömer, also rejected the intervention of Grenell, who had to “comment on something every week”.
Meanwhile, a member of the US embassy in Moscow was rebuffed by the Russian Foreign Ministry after an article was published online which, according to the Russian authorities, called for a demonstration. The ministry denounced it as an act of “propaganda”.
On August 9, the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned US diplomat Tim Richardson, who is in charge of political affairs at the US embassy in Moscow. It is alleged that the US mission in Russia on August 2, on its website, published a map of downtown Moscow indicating the route to be taken by an unauthorized demonstration on the following day in the capital.
According to a statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry, this was a tacit invitation to the demonstration. The statement highlighted “an attempt to interfere in the internal affairs” of Russia.
The article posted by the US embassy also gave a list of parts of Moscow on the way to the event, and advised its citizens to “avoid the route taken by the procession” and to bring along a US passport with a valid Russian visa. “Given the potential scale of the protest and the significant presence of the police, US citizens should avoid the route taken by the demonstration,” it noted.
Every Saturday for nearly a month now, thousands of opposition activists have marched in Moscow, after the electoral commission refused to validate dozens of candidates for the city’s parliamentary elections scheduled for 8 September.
The Commission argued that the cancellations were linked to fraud in the signature collection process.
Russian diplomacy also criticised the “direct calls to protest” by the German channel Deutsche Welle on social networks and denounced “interference” and the “violation of journalistic standards and ethics”.
A new demonstration, this time authorized by the authorities, is scheduled for August 10 in the Russian capital.