Trump last week directed the Pentagon to cut the number of US troops stationed in Germany by 9,500, reducing about a quarter of the forces in the country.
A top German official said it was “unacceptable” – a move that could impact the long-standing relationship between the NATO allies.
“This is completely unacceptable, especially since nobody in Washington thought about informing its NATO ally Germany in advance,” Peter Beyer, an ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, told the Rheinische Post newspaper, according to Reuters.
Beyer, Germany’s Coordinator of Transatlantic Cooperation, told the DPA news agency that “the German-US relationship could be severely affected by such a decision from the US president.”
A senior administration official told the Wall Street Journal that internal discussions have been ongoing since September, adding that yanking the troops has nothing to do with Merkel’s decision not to attend the G-7 meeting in Washington this summer.
Merkel’s government said Monday it still has heard no official word from Washington.
“As of this hour, there is no official confirmation by the appropriate authorities in the United States whether these plans will really be carried out or not,” Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told reporters in Berlin, according to Bloomberg News. “We’re only aware of the information that is in the press.”
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas characterized the relationship between Berlin and Washington as “complicated.”
“We appreciate the cooperation with the U.S. armed forces that has grown over decades. It is in the interest of both of our countries,” Maas told the Germany newspaper Bild, Reuters reported.
“We are close partners in the transatlantic alliance. But it’s complicated,” he said.
Trump has criticized NATO members for not paying enough of their fair share of defense and Germany isn’t expected to hit its spending level until 2031.
German officials expressed concern that removing the US troops could pose a security risk on the continent by weakening NATO.
But during a July 2018 NATO meeting with Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Trump questioned why the US protects Germany, ostensibly from Russia, while the country is involved in an energy deal with Russia.
“I think it’s very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia, where you’re supposed to be guarding against Russia, and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia,” Trump told Stoltenberg. “So we’re protecting Germany, we’re protecting France, we’re protecting all of these countries. And then numerous of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russia where they’re paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russia. And I think that’s very inappropriate.”
”But Germany is totally controlled by Russia, because they will be getting from 60 to 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline,” Trump said at the time.
Meanwhile, Poland hopes some of the US troops being pulled from Germany will be reassigned there.
“I deeply hope that as a result of the many talks that we had … part of the troops based today in Germany which are being removed by the United States … will indeed come to Poland,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told private radio RMF24, Reuters reported. “The decision is now on the US side.”