President Trump is already making waves, just hours after arriving in Europe.
Speaking in Brussels, Belgium before meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday morning, Trump tore into German oil and gas deals with Russia, accusing the country of being “controlled” by the Kremlin.
“It’s very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia where we’re supposed to be guarding against Russia and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia,” Trump said.
“Germany is totally controlled by Russia…They will be getting between 60 and 70% of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline, and you tell me if that is appropriate because I think it’s not,” he continued. “If you look at it, Germany is a captive of Russia, because they supply…they got rid of their coal plants, got rid of their nuclear, they’re getting so much of the oil and gas from Russia. I think it’s something NATO has to look at.”
Trump then doubled down on a familiar argument that NATO countries like Germany are not meeting the alliance’s obligation to commit 2% of a country’s GDP to defense spending, calling that “inappropriate also.”
“Many countries owe us,” he argued. “The United States is paying far too much and other countries are not paying enough.”
The President began reminding his followers on Twitter of this purported imbalance a day before flying to Brussels, tweeting, “Getting ready to leave for Europe. First meeting – NATO. The U.S. is spending many times more than any other country in order to protect them. Not fair to the U.S. taxpayer. On top of that we lose $151 Billion on Trade with the European Union. Charge us big Tariffs (& Barriers)!”
Throughout his journey across the Atlantic, Trump continued, “NATO countries must pay MORE, the United States must pay LESS. Very Unfair!” and “Many countries in NATO, which we are expected to defend, are not only short of their current commitment of 2% (which is low), but are also delinquent for many years in payments that have not been made. Will they reimburse the U.S.?”
Trump is due to participate in the NATO summit on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday before flying to the U.K. for a multi-day visit, which is due to include meetings with Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth and two days at Trump’s golf club in Scotland. He will then fly to Helsinki, Finland, where he plans to meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin.