WASHINGTON — President Trump on Wednesday announced he will withdraw tens of thousands of US troops from Germany — accusing the European nation of taking advantage of his administration by not paying their fair share to NATO.
Speaking during a joint press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda in the White House Rose Garden, Trump ripped Germany for spending billions on Russian energy while asking the US to protect it from Russia.
“We’re going to be reducing Germany very substantially down to about 25,000 troops. We actually had 52,000 but we’ll be moving it down to about 25,000,” Trump told reporters.
The US troops will be sent to Poland or will return to the US, Trump said.
“They’re spending billions of dollars to buy Russian energy and then we’re supposed to defend them from Russia so that doesn’t work too well,” Trump said.
The move had been anticipated for weeks, with the president earlier this month directing the Pentagon to cut the number of troops in Germany by 9,500 — a move condemned by both House Republicans and German lawmakers.
The president on Wednesday hit Germany for not paying enough dues to NATO, the military alliance created in the wake of WWII, estimating it owed trillions while the US footed the majority of the bill.
“You should be paying 2 percent [of GDP] and they’re paying a little bit more than 1 percent,” he said, calling it a “tremendous delinquency.”
“It really isn’t treating the United States fairly. The United States is a major participant in that we pay more than anybody else by far and have for many many years,” he said.
“So we defend Europe, but Europe also takes tremendous advantage of the United States on trade like you wouldn’t believe,” he continued.
“I would imagine they’d like to wait until after the election so that maybe they could deal with somebody else than President Trump but after the election they’ll just have to pay more,” he added.
President Duda said he lobbied Trump not to remove US troops from Europe entirely, citing fears that Russia would be encouraged to attack Poland, and described the NATO alliance as crucial for regional security.
“The president understands the history of Europe and he understand the realities of Europe,” Duda said of Trump.
The move to yank half of the US troops in Germany comes amid an unraveling in Trump’s relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel who decided to skip the G-7 meeting in Washington this summer.
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