North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit: Donald Trump says Germany is 'captive of Russians'

Trump begins Nato Summit by calling Germany a captive of Russia

President Donald Trump is due to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki early next week, and some allies are concerned he might accept the country's annexation of Crimea or vow to halt US military exercises in Europe.

"We are stronger together", Stoltenberg insisted, but acknowledged that there can be differences among allies.

Though she said that Germany did have "a lot of issues with Russian Federation", she noted that it was important to "keep the communication line between countries or alliances and opponents" open.

"Germany is totally controlled by Russian Federation because they'll be getting 60 to 70% of their energy from Russian Federation and a new pipeline", Trump told Stoltenberg.

Former secretary of state John Kerry blasted President Trump's criticism of Germany in a lengthy statement on Wednesday morning as "strange", "counterproductive", and "disgraceful". "And I think that is inappropriate also", he added.

Germany has been a frequent target for Trump, who accuses the EU's largest economy of not spending enough on defence and freeloading on the back of the United States.

Democratic leaders attacked President Donald Trump as signifying he is "more loyal" to Russian President Vladimir Putin than he is to the United States' NATO allies after Trump launched his latest attacks on US partners.

But Trump then dismissed that recent increase in spending as a "very small amount of money" relative to what was owed from the past and what should be the current level.

Trump also took credit for the spending, telling the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation chief that "because of me they've raised about $40 billion over the previous year".

His comments come only hours before he's due to meet German chancellor Angela Merkel on the side lines of the summit in Brussels.

Meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday, Trump said: "Many countries are not paying what they should".

Stoltenberg pushed back in the moment, but struck a more conciliatory tone in remarks after his breakfast with Trump (which, he joked, was "paid for by the United States").

"We're discussing military expenditure. talking about trade", Trump told reporters who were allowed in to the meeting room.

The president argues that U.S. taxpayers are carrying the "unfair" burden of the most military spending within the alliance.

Trump, who later arrived at NATO's new billion-dollar headquarters in his presidential limousine, appeared to substantially overstate German reliance on Russian energy and to imply the German government was funding the pipeline, which Berlin says is a commercial venture.

"We all agree that we have to do more", he said, describing past year as marking the biggest increase in defense spending across Europe and Canada in a generation.

"The President needs to remember that, as Commander-in-Chief, his duty is to protect the American people from foreign threats, not to sell out our democracy to Putin", the two Democratic leaders said. "He may be the only one but that's OK with me", the president said moments before the public rebuke of Stoltenberg.

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