Germany dismisses Trump criticism, says it's not a captive of Russia

Photo: AP We have a lot of issues with Russia, without any doubt, but on the other hand you should keep a communication line with opponents, Ursula von der Leyen said.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday that she didn't "really understand what he means" by saying her nation is "captive" to Russia. "We have a lot of issues with Russia, without any doubt, but on the other hand you should keep a communication line between countries or alliances and opponents without any question," she said. "So I'm curious to listen in-depth in the meeting what the American president is meaning by that."

President Donald Trump targeted Germany in reiterating his demand that NATO countries step up their defense spending so that they shoulder a greater share of the burden in protecting Europe from Russia. Speaking even before the NATO summit began here, and amid domestic political turmoil for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Trump said it is not fair to American taxpayers that Germany buys oil and gas from Russia while enjoying the umbrella of defense provided by US dollars.

"Germany is a captive of Russia," he said, pointing out that the country pays "billions and billions of dollars" to Russia for energy.

The president's comments appeared to be referring to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that would bring gas from Russia to Germany's northeastern Baltic coast, bypassing Eastern European nations like Poland and Ukraine and doubling the amount of gas Russia can send directly to Germany. The vast undersea pipeline is opposed by the US and some other EU members, who warn it could give Moscow greater leverage over Western Europe.

Trump highlighted that "Germany is a rich country" and asked why the US should "protect you against Russia" when the two countries are making deals.

"You tell me, is that appropriate?" he asked, adding that: "Germany is totally controlled by Russia."

 

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