In July of 2018, Trump said to NATO Sec. General Jens Stoltenberg during a meeting that Germany was “completely controlled” by Russia through gas and oil deals.
“We are supposed to guard you from Russia, but they’re giving billions to Russia?” Trump said. “I believe that is very inappropriate.”
“And former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is the leader of the pipeline company that is supplying the gas. Ultimately, Germany will have around 70 percent of their nation controlled by Russia with natural gas. So you let me know — is that appropriate? I have been complaining about this from when I got in.”
Trump also slammed NATO nations that were not going along with their commitment to give at least 2 percent of their GDP on national defense.
Stoltenberg reported that NATO countries had been following Trump’s demands to give more and said promises had been made to give over $250 billion additional funds through 2024.
While Germany and other NATO countries increased their defense funding after Trump won the White House, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said this week that in reply to the Ukraine conflict his nation would go to the 2 percent level, up from 1.53 percent last year. By comparison, the United States spent 3.7 percent on the military in 2020.
Not only did the Europeans follow Trump’s call to boost defense spending, they also began buying much more natural gas from the United States.
This was an initiative that Trump took up in a meeting with the European Commission President at the time, Jean-Claude Juncker, also back in July 2018.
“We agreed today to bolster our strategic cooperation in terms of energy. The EU wants to import more natural gas from the U.S. to diversify its energy supplies,” the two said in a joint comment after their meeting.
By March of 2019, the EU said that imports of American natural gas were up 181 percent. The United States share of the overall market reached 12 percent, compared to around 2.3 percent before this agreement.