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

12 Juillet 2018

'We are protecting Germany, we are protecting France, we are protecting all of these countries and then numerous of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russian Federation where they are paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russian Federation.

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the main focus should be on all members reaching the current target of 2 percent of GDP.

A White House spokeswoman said his remarks came as he was urging leaders to increase their outlays on defense and were not a formal proposal. But the figure is far short of what Trump demanded, with only a handful of the allies meeting their commitment.

Stoltenberg estimated European allies and Canada will add $266 billion to their military spending by 2024 and said, "this is really adding some extra momentum", apparently meaning Trump's pressure. The United States pays about 67 percent of its gross domestic product on defense, more than any other nation, although only 3.5 percent is NATO-related.

Before that, Trump called on allies to spend at least 4 percent of their GDP on defense.

The top USA diplomat, who once served as a tank commander in Europe patrolling the Warsaw Pact frontier, sat stoically as Trump lectured NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg over breakfast.

The US leader travelled to Europe saying that a summit with Putin will be the easiest of his week of diplomacy - an unusual assertion that upended North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders' belief that the alliance should project a strong and united front against a strategic rival.

"This has gone on for many presidents".

Despite the harsh criticism of the president, Kerry agreed that United States allies need to increase their defense spending.

Stoltenberg agreed there should be more done to prompt allies to invest more in their defense.

Leaders will be keen to hear more about Trump's military approach to Afghanistan, which he revamped last August to include a surge in air strikes to force Taliban militants to the negotiating table. The U.S.is at 3.5 percent, or $685 billion past year.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he thinks the president is "right about Germany buying gas from the Russians, that's counterproductive". So I think the secretary-general likes Trump.

"Germany is totally controlled by Russia", Trump said at the summit's start on Wednesday.

"It's very important that we have these exchanges together because we are partners, we are good partners and we wish to continue to cooperate in the future", she told reporters.

Raising concerns he may eventually withdraw from NATO, Trump added that Europe's borders were "bad". "We look forward to the meeting you're going to have with President Putin".

Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch also took issue with Trump, saying "I don't agree with that".

The US president was similarly effusive when he met German chancellor Angela Merkel.

"I think we can cope with it", von der Leyen 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.

Trump brands Germany a