‘We won’t protect you anymore!’ Donald Trump explodes at Merkel – ‘Germany PAYS Russia!’

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The US President hit out at “delinquent” Germany and questioned why the US is “protecting Germany from Russia” but Berlin pays Moscow “billions of dollars a year in energy”. Donald Trump tweeted: “Germany pays Russia billions of dollars a year for energy, and we are supposed to protect Germany from Russia.

“What’s that all about? Also, Germany is very delinquent in their 2 percent fee to NATO.

“We are therefore moving some troops out of Germany!”

His furious tweet comes after the US military unveiled plans yesterday to withdraw about 12,000 troops from Germany, in fallout from President Trump’s long-simmering feud with Berlin.

But officials said it would keep nearly half of those forces in Europe to address tension with Russia.

Other forces leaving Angela Merkel’s Germany will permanently move to Italy and the US military’s European headquarters is set to relocate from Stuttgart in Germany, to Belgium.

However, recent NATO figures show Germany defence spending at 1.38 percent of GDP, with Belgium at just 0.93 percent.

Mr Trump announced his intention to cut by about a third the 36,000-strong US troop contingent in Germany last month, faulting the close US ally for failing to meet NATO’s defence spending target and accusing it of taking advantage of the US on trade.

Speaking at the White House, he said: “We don’t want to be the suckers any more.

“We’re reducing the force because they’re not paying their bills, it’s very simple.”

In remarks likely to irk Moscow, Mr Esper said some US troops would reposition to the Black Sea region and some could temporarily deploy in waves to the Baltics.

In total, just under 6,000 troops of the 12,000 leaving Germany are expected to remain in Europe.

The moves out of Germany represent a remarkable rebuke to one of the closest US military allies and trading partners, while two beneficiaries, Italy and Belgium, are low-spending alliance members, according to NATO data.

But Defence Secretary Mark Esper played down signs of a simmering feud between the US and Germany.

He said the military’s plan would prevent the troop movements from undermining NATO and its efforts to deter Russian intervention, following Moscow’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.

Many of the other forces will be based in the US but will rotate into Europe for temporary deployments without their families.

Mr Esper said: “I’m telling you that this is going to accomplish what the president said with regard to getting us down to a lower number in Europe, and it meets his other objectives I outlined with regards to the strategic piece.”

Reacting to the news, Norbert Roettgen, chairman of the German parliament’s foreign affairs committee and an ally of Ms Merkel, warned the troop withdrawal from Germany “will weaken the NATO alliance.”

But NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg struck an upbeat tone in a statement, saying allies had been briefed by the US.

Since the Second World War, the US military has considered Germany to be one of its most strategic locations overseas, and it serves as a critical logistics hub for troop movements not just within Europe, but to the Middle East, Africa and beyond.

Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, however, the number of US troops in Germany has been steadily reduced from some 200,000.

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