Donald Trump has kicked off the Nato summit with a bang, claiming Germany is "a captive to Russia" because of its energy requirements.
Speaking during a working breakfast with Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, the US President said it was "very inappropriate" that the US had to "protect you against Russia" while Germany supported a Baltic Sea gas pipeline deal.
"Were protecting Germany, were protecting France, were protecting all of these countries. And then numerous of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russia where theyre paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russia," he said. “So were supposed to protect you against Russia and you pay billions of dollars to Russia and I think thats very inappropriate."
Trump added: "Germany is totally controlled by Russia, 'cause they are getting 60 to 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline… If you look at it, Germany is a captive of Russia. They got rid of their coal plants, they got rid of their nuclear, theyre getting so much of their oil and gas from Russia. I think it is something Nato has to look at. It is very inappropriate.”
Trump renewed his call for other Nato members to pay in more to the Western alliance, with the US shouldering an “unfair” share of military spending.
“I think these countries have to step it up, not over a 10 year period, they have to step it up immediately," the US President said.
"Germany is a rich country, they talk about increasing it a tiny bit by 2030. Well they could increase it immediately, tomorrow, and have no problem."
Most recent figures suggest Germany contributes 1.2 per cent of GDP towards military spending, while the US stumps up 3.1 per cent. The UK exceeds the two per cent target required of Nato members.
In a subsequent interview, German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen, told CNBC: "Germany is an independent country what energy supplies concerned, we diversify."
She added she was "very confident" the deal would not compromise Germany's security.
Regarding military spend, von der Leyen explained: "We came from a period like all the other European countries after reunification and when the wall came down when the Soviet Union collapsed and the Warsaw Pact disappeared that we cut budget over 25 long years because all of us thought it's going to be more peaceful around us."
Since 2014 the country has been "investing heavily in the German armed forces and other European countries too because the armed forces need it", she added. "We improved a lot but there's still work to be done at that point. At that point our American friends have a point."