WASHINGTON — President Trump on Wednesday accused a “delinquent” Germany of taking advantage of the US on trade and the military as his administration confirmed it was yanking 11,900 troops from the country in coming weeks.
Speaking to reporters at the White House before departing for Texas, the president lashed at the European superpower for failing to pay its fair share of NATO fees and accused Germany of relying on the US to protect it from Russia.
“Germany is delinquent. They haven’t paid their fees — they haven’t paid their NATO fees. They’re way off. They’ve been way off for years and they have no intention of paying it,” Trump said, referring to the military alliance born out of WWII.
“The United States has been taken advantage of on trade and military and everything else for many years and I’m here and I’ve been straightening it out,” he continued.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper earlier Wednesday confirmed that the US would withdraw almost 12,000 American troops permanently stationed in Germany. Of those, 6,400 will return home while 5,600 will be redeployed to other NATO countries.
The move significantly reduces the number of American soldiers in Germany from around 36,000 to 24,000, and will apply to troops at Ramstein Air Base, the largest American military base outside of the US.
German leaders and Republican lawmakers rebuked the decision, saying it was a gift to China and Russia and a sign of the fraying relationship between Berlin and Washington.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has not committed to attending this year’s G7 meeting.
Trump announced the decision to yank troops last month during a White House Rose Garden event where he ripped Germany for spending billions on Russian energy while asking the US to protect it from Russia.
“Germany owes billions and billions of dollars to NATO. Why would we keep all of those troops there?” Trump asked Wednesday. “And now Germany is saying it’s bad for their economy? Well, it’s good for our economy,” he said, threatening more action against the US ally.
“They’ve taken advantage of us for many years. You think that’s bad? They take worse advantage of trade and I was all set to fix that and then we go hit with the China plague, but we’ll be fixing it,” he said, referring to the coronavirus pandemic.
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