At a White House roundtable Monday, Trump said the current number of troops in Germany is “a tremendous cost to the United States” and suggested he would pull some troops out of Germany unless the nation pays more to NATO.
“And Germany, as you know, is very delinquent in their payments to NATO,” he told reporters, claiming later, “So Germany is delinquent, they’ve been delinquent for years and they owe NATO billions of dollars, and they have to pay it. So we’re protecting Germany and they’re delinquent, that doesn’t make sense.”
Trump has repeatedly mischaracterized Germany’s payments to NATO. It is not in debt to the alliance and never has been, but is not meeting a pledge to spend 2% of its GDP on national defense, the same as many other members. Germany has recently been increasing its defense spending.
Trump said he would draw down the number of US soldiers in Germany to 25,000 troops.
“One of the only countries that hasn’t agreed to pay what they’re supposed to pay (on NATO) is Germany. So, I said until they pay, we’re removing our soldiers, a number of our soldiers, by about half. Then when we get down to about 25,000, we’ll see where we’re going,” Trump said.
The President also accused Germany of treating the US “very badly on trade.”
“So, Germany takes and then on top of that they treat us very badly on trade,” Trump said, adding, “And we’re negotiating with them on that, but right now I’m not satisfied with the deal they want to make. They’ve cost the United States hundreds of billions of dollars over the years on trade.”
Trump has long criticized Germany over a range of issues, particularly Berlin’s failure to meet the target of 2% of gross domestic product spending on defense that is recommended by NATO.
If the troops directed to leave Germany are removed from Europe entirely, the drawdown could be seen as a major blow to solidarity within the NATO alliance as many member countries continue to express concerns about the threat posed by Russia, which has used military force against Ukraine in recent years.
During a news conference Tuesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he told Trump last week that the US presence in Europe is “good for Europe, but it’s also…