Germany ‘totally controlled’ by Russia, Trump claims as fraught NATO summit begins

Belgian soccer fans celebrate their team's World Cup victory against Japan in Jette a Brussels municipality on July 2

The dramatic exchange came during a breakfast gathering with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that opened the alliance's meeting, when Trump said that Germany was "totally controlled by Russia" and "captive to Russia" because of its dependence on natural gas and deals with Moscow like the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

In a message to Mr Trump, he said: "it is always worth knowing who is your strategic friend and who is your strategic problem", while signing a joint EU-NATO declaration with alliance Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. "We're supposed to be guarding against Russian Federation and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russian Federation".

"European troops have been fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with American soldiers in Afghanistan; 870 courageous men and women sacrificed their lives, including 40 soldiers from my homeland, Poland", said Mr. Tusk.

"I think that getting along with Russian Federation, getting along with China, getting along with others is a good thing, not a bad thing", Trump said. Despite German Chancellor Angela Merkel's tough talk over Russia's annexation of Crimea and sponsorship of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine, she has defended the $11 billion pipeline deal to supply her country's energy shortfall.

Of Nato's 29 members, just five meet that target this year: the US, Greece, Estonia, the United Kingdom and Latvia.

Trump swipes at NATO spending ahead of summit Pompeo offers support for Taliban peace talks during surprise Afghan visit Trump: China may be exerting "negative pressure" on North Korea MORE defended the current US strategy and pledged the administration's continued support for the Afghanistan government.

The meeting of Western leaders in Brussels has the potential to turn into another public bust-up following a divisive and bad-tempered summit of G7 nations in Canada in June.

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At a news conference on Tuesday, Stoltenberg thanked Trump for his leadership in pushing member states toward the goal of spending 2 percent of their GDP on defense, while the USA spends closer to 3.5 percent. "He may be the only one, but that's OK with me", he said. After all, you don't have that many.

Though the USA intelligence community and a bipartisan group of senators on the Senate Intelligence Committee both concluded Russian Federation waged a disinformation on Trump's behalf, Trump has indicated he accepts Putin's denials at face value.

United States ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison told reporters that Trump would also recommit to one of the founding articles of NATO - Article 5 - which holds that an attack on one member is an attack on them all.

'You tell me if that's appropriate because I think it's not.

"These countries have to step it up - not over a 10 year period, they have to step it up immediately", Trump said.

The project is opposed by the USA and some European Union members. "Just doesn't work!" he tweeted as he arrived in Brussels. The United States under President Trump is a proud member of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, but if certain European powers fail to get on board with their obligations, they may find a partner in Washington that instead prioritizes reciprocal trade and alliance-building measures with countries that are true to their word and live up to their commitments.

The NATO meeting represents the first time the two leaders have been in the same room together since the disastrous G7 summit in Charlevoix, Quebec last month - and there's no sign at all of a thaw in their chilly relationship.

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