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‘We’re not prisoners’: German FM berates Trump for ‘Russia captives’ remark

12 July 2018

Trump's pipeline criticism was an unusual line of attack for a president who has appeared eager to improve relations with Putin and dismissed the USA intelligence community's assessment that Russian Federation tried to undermine Western democracy by meddling in the 2016 US presidential election to help Trump win.

So, in a stroke, he shifted attention away from his own ties to the Kremlin just days before he meets one-on-one with Putin.

The development of today's German democracy is in no small way shaped on its relationship with the United States, which helped rebuild the country with the Marshall Plan after the Nazi defeat in World War II, and remained a stalwart friend at the side of West Germany when facing down Soviet aggression during the Cold War.

Striking a strident tone at the summit, Trump's aspirational target of four percent of gross domestic product (GDP) was above the United States' own spending on defence.

The U.S. president has lambasted U.S. allies for routinely failing to meet a 2 percent goal, a much lower standard that their nations agreed upon before he took office.

However, U.S. senior administration officials told Reuters that President Trump will likely declare U.S. support for NATO's mutual defense agreement while pushing for increased spending commitments from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

"It's sad when Germany makes a massive 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", he said.

"Based on our agreed approach of doing nothing on Ukraine without Ukraine, I wish Mr Trump well in his efforts to bring Mr Putin back into line".

Although Trump did not name the Russian pipeline project, he was referring to Nord Stream 2, an expansion of the world's largest undersea pipeline linking Russia to Germany.

Lawmakers in the US seemed to break with the president's attacks, issuing their support for the decades-old organization. It's expected to be online at the end of 2019. "Germany is a captive to Russian Federation because it is getting so much of its energy from Russian Federation".

Ms. Merkel said they were discussing migration and trade. "Totally controlled by Russia" is definitely not a phrase continually ringing around Trump's brain.

Trump again demanded the allies all meet their commitment to raise their military budgets to 2 per cent of their economic output by 2024, but then further stepped up the pressure by saying they should make it 4 per cent.

Mr Trump clashed with Mrs Merkel ahead of the summit. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall.

Back in the U.S., Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer issued a joint statement describing Trump's "brazen insults and denigration of one of America's most steadfast allies, Germany", as "an embarrassment". The comment illustrated how Trump often seeks to avoid conflict with people when he is face to face with them versus the often-harsher rhetoric he uses when he's talking behind their back. In remarks to reporters, Trump said the United States has a "tremendous relationship with Germany" and Merkel noted that "we are good partners".

‘We’re not prisoners’: German FM berates Trump for ‘Russia captives’ remark