U.S. President Donald Trump has told NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that Germany is “captive” to Russia because it is importing energy from there, Reuters reports.
In a heated exchange with the NATO chief ahead of a summit in Brussels on Wednesday, the U.S. president was fiercely critical of German oil and gas imports from Russia.
Trump said it was “very inappropriate” for the United States to be paying for European defense from Russia while Germany is supporting gas deals with Moscow.
“They pay billions of dollars to Russia and we have to defend them against Russia,” Trump told Stoltenberg at a breakfast meeting.
“Germany as far as I’m concerned is captive to Russia because it’s getting so much of its energy from Russia,” Trump added.
Berlin has supported the building of Nord Stream 2, a new $11 billion pipeline to bring Russian gas across the Baltic Sea, despite opposition among the EU. Chancellor Merkel has insisted the project is a private commercial venture and is not funded by German taxpayers.
“When Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia,” Trump said to Stoltenberg. “We’re supposed to be guarding against Russia and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia.
“We’re protecting Germany, we’re protecting France, we’re protecting all of these countries. And then numerous of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russia where they’re paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russia.
“So we’re supposed to protect you against Russia and you pay billions of dollars to Russia and I think that’s very inappropriate,” Trump said at the residence of the U.S. ambassador in Brussels.
“Germany will have almost 70 percent of their country controlled by Russia with natural gas. You tell me, is that appropriate?” he asked, while Stoltenberg listened.
“Germany is totally controlled by Russia because they are getting 60 to 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline,” the U.S. president said.