WASHINGTON (Reuters) – They may not have agreed with the U.S. president calling Germany a “captive” of Russia, however some Republican lawmakers on Wednesday mentioned they imagine Donald Trump is true to disgrace considered one of America’s most necessary allies into spending extra on protection.
The Republican president, in Brussels for the NATO summit, took a swipe at Germany for supporting a brand new pipeline for Russian gasoline, saying at a pre-summit assembly: “We’re supposed to be guarding against Russia and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia.”
Trump saved up his assault on NATO members, significantly Germany, for failing to spend a goal two p.c of nationwide revenue on protection, a aim they have to meet by 2024. He advised fellow leaders he would like a four p.c goal, nearer to the three.6 p.c of GDP the United States spends on protection.
While Democratic congressional leaders condemned Trump’s assaults on Germany as “brazen insults and denigration of one of America’s most steadfast allies,” Republicans took a extra benign view, and some backed him outright.
“I think the president is right to raise the issue of whether they’re meeting their responsibilities to NATO and whether they are perhaps pulling their punches with regard to their support for NATO because of their dependency” on Russia, mentioned Senator John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican within the Senate.
Asked about Trump calling Germany Russia’s “captive,” Cornyn mentioned: “I would not choose that word but I understand what he’s getting at.”
House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan mentioned NATO is indispensable, however Trump was proper to level out that Germany and different allies should hold their dedication to extend spending on protection.
“Germany is the largest economy in the EU. Germany should be committing two percent to defense like they agreed to,” Ryan advised reporters.
Germany invested 1.24 p.c of its GDP in 2017 and estimated to do the identical in 2018. While Germany’s spending is rising, it won’t attain the goal by 2024, as a substitute anticipating to spice up spending to 1.5 p.c by 2025.
While U.S. protection spending makes up 70 p.c of mixed allied governments’ navy budgets, simply 15 p.c of U.S. expenditure is spent in Europe on NATO-related protection.
Senator John Barrasso, a Republican member of the Foreign Relations Committee, threw his support behind Trump’s exhausting line,
“The president is going to mention the fact that Europe is becoming more and more dependent on Russia for their energy sources, specifically Germany with their invitation to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline,” Barrasso advised Fox News. “I have been fighting it all the way through.”
Trump took situation with Nord Stream 2, a brand new $11-billion pipeline to deliver Russian gasoline throughout the Baltic Sea that Berlin has supported regardless of qualms from different EU states. German Chancellor Angela Merkel insists the venture is a personal industrial enterprise.
Republican Senators Bob Corker and Lindsey Graham additionally expressed concern in regards to the pipeline.
“I don’t understand why Germany would be so in favor of supporting that particular supply source instead of diversifying,” mentioned Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Both Corker and Graham, nevertheless, hoped Trump would let allies know that NATO is efficacious to the United States and must be protected and strengthened.
“The alliance is very important and I think there’s ways of communicating our displeasure with things without trying to insult and break the alliance apart,” mentioned Corker.
To underscore support for NATO, the Senate and House each voted for resolutions supporting the alliance on Tuesday and Wednesday. Corker’s overseas relations committee additionally voted for a pro-NATO measure on Wednesday.
Additional reporting by Amanda Becker, Patricia Zengerle and Susan Cornwell; Writing by Mary Milliken; Editing by Susan Thomas