Donald Trump, who chastised Germany for buying energy from Russia and extending the natural gas pipeline connecting the two countries, indicated he may reconsider his stance if “everybody” has a good relationship with Russia.
US President Donald Trump hinted at the change of heart at a media conference following the NATO summit in Brussels.
“Frankly, maybe everybody is going to have a good relationship with Russia, so there will be a lot less problem with the pipeline. But to me it was a major point of contention. We discussed it at length today. Germany has agreed to do a lot better than they were doing,” he said.
Trump was referring to what he described as Germany’s pledge to spend more on defense along with other NATO members, which he sees as a major win for his administration.
Speaking to journalists, Trump seemed pleased with himself for attacking Germany on its energy import from Russia during the first day of the summit.
“I brought it up. Nobody brought it up but me,” he said. “Actually, I think the world is talking about it now maybe more than anything else.”
On Wednesday, Trump called Germany a “captive” of Russia for buying Russian natural gas. The remark was rejected by top German officials, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said Berlin conducts an independent foreign policy and was not a captive of any country.
Germany insists that its trade with Russia is a national issue and not that of NATO or the EU, and its allies in Western Europe seem to agree. French President Emmanuel Macron, who spoke to the media after Trump on Thursday, said he personally didn’t find Trump’s remarks about Germany shocking but believed that countries should “take such decision in a sovereign manner.”
“Mr. Trump shared his point of view. An ally has the right to speak about strategic issues,” Macron said.
Russia and Germany are currently connected directly by the Nord Stream, an underwater pipeline through the Baltic Sea. A second pipeline that would double the capacity of the first one is currently under construction. The US opposes the project, claiming it would give Russia more leverage over Europe. Officials in Germany and Russia say the US is simply trying to wrestle its way into the European energy market and sell its own liquefied natural gas.