Merkel slams Trump’s ‘Russian captive’ comment, defends Berlin’s ‘independent policies’

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has issued a curt rebuke of Donald Trump and his assertion that Germany is a “captive” of Russia, telling journalists in Brussels that Berlin is a sovereign nation that makes its own decisions.

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© Hannibal Hanschke

Having just arrived in Brussels for the start of a two-day NATO summit, Merkel found herself swamped by media pressing her for a response to provocative comments made hours earlier by the US president regarding Berlin’s alleged dependence on Russian energy.

“I have experienced myself how a part of Germany was controlled by the Soviet Union,” Merkel told reporters upon her arrival at the NATO summit on Wednesday. “I am very happy that today we are united in freedom, the Federal Republic of Germany. Because of that we can say that we can make our independent policies and make independent decisions. That is very good, especially for people in eastern Germany.”

She also pushed back against allegations that Germany was not contributing enough towards NATO’s budget.

“Germany does a lot for NATO,” she said. “Germany is the second largest provider of troops, the largest part of our military capacity is offered to NATO and until today we have a strong engagement towards Afghanistan. In that we also defend the interests of the United States.”

With cameras rolling, Trump lashed out at Germany during a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, accusing the Germans of paying “billions of dollars” to Russia for energy deals while still requiring the US military to “defend them against Russia.”

Trump’s markedly critical tone sets the stage for what is expected to be a highly-contentious summit between deeply divided allies.

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