Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
Global | By Marsha Munoz

Trump brands Germany a "captive of Russian Federation", days before he meets Putin


But back in Washington, Trump's handling of the US' NATO allies was not going down well.

While it's true that only a handful of the 28 member countries now spend 2 percent or more of their GDP on defense, a 2014 agreement gave all of them a decade to get to the 2 percent level. American officials say the U.S.is itself short of that mark, spending 3.3 percent of its GDP on defense.

Lawmakers in the USA seemed to break with the president's attacks, issuing their support for the decades-old organization.

'Must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025'.

Trump told NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that Germany was wrong to support a new Baltic Sea pipeline to import Russian gas while being slow to meet targets for contributing to NATO defence spending meant to protect Europe from Russia. "So I think that's inappropriate also", Trump claimed.

Mr Trump has repeatedly complained that the U.S. is left to provide the lion's share of funding for trans-Atlantic defence, as European states fail to meet Nato's target of spending 2% of GDP on the military.

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"We are not prisoners, neither of Russian Federation nor of the United States", Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters.

While U.S. defense spending makes up 70 percent of combined allied governments' military budgets, just 15 percent of U.S. expenditure is spent in Europe on NATO-related defense.

The Brussels meeting comes less than a week before Mr Trump is due to hold his first summit with Vladimir Putin, in Helsinki, reviving concerns among United States allies over his proximity to the Russian president. "Why are there only 5 out of 29 countries that have met their commitment?"

"It certainly doesn't seem to make sense that they pay billions of dollars to Russia, and now we have to defend them against Russia", Trump said.

European Union figures suggest Russian Federation is responsible for between 50% and 75% of Germany's gas imports, but gas makes up less than 20% of Germany's energy mix for power production.

"We're discussing military expenditure. talking about trade", Trump told reporters who were allowed into the meeting room.

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The White House on Wednesday claimed chief of staff John Kelly looked "displeased" during part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels because "he was expecting a full breakfast and there were only pastries and cheese".

Mr Trump dominated the day and is set to stay in the spotlight as he visits the United Kingdom and prepares for a summit with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Previous US presidents have urged Europe to take more responsibility for their defence and reduce the burden on US taxpayers of maintaining forces in Europe long after the end of the Cold War - but none as bluntly as Mr Trump.

However, Trump would "do better to lower the decibel levels in public", Burns said in a " Squawk Box " interview. "On top of this the European Union has a Trade Surplus of $151 Million with the United States, with big Trade Barriers on USA goods. NO!" Not fair to the US taxpayer.

The feud over defense spending looks set to overshadow other business at the two-day summit.

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