Germany makes independent decisions, chancellor says in response to claim it is controlled by Russia
Angela Merkel has pushed back against Donald Trump’s extraordinary tirade against Germany on the first day of the Nato summit in Brussels, denying her country was “totally controlled” by Russia and saying it made its own independent decisions and policies. In less blunt language than the US president’s, the German chancellor made the point that she needed no lessons in dealing with authoritarian regimes, recalling she had been brought up in East Germany when it had been part of the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence. Arriving at Nato headquarters only hours after Trump singled out Germany for criticism, Merkel said: “I have experienced myself how a part of Germany was controlled by the Soviet Union. I am very happy that today we are united in freedom, the Federal Republic of Germany. Because of that we can say that we can make our independent policies and make independent decisions. That is very good, especially for people in eastern Germany She also hit back at Trump’s criticism that Germany contributed too little to European defence. “Germany does a lot for Nato,” she said. “Germany is the second largest provider of troops, the largest part of our military capacity is offered to Nato and until today we have a strong engagement towards Afghanistan. In that we also defend the interests of the United States.” Earlier the US president had accused Berlin of being a “a captive of the Russians” because of its dependence on energy supplies. “We are protecting Germany, we are protecting France, we are protecting all of these countries and then numerous of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russia where they are paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russia. I think that is very inappropriate.” He added: “It should never have been allowed to happen. Germany is totally controlled by Russia because they will be getting 60-70% of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline. Merkel has been one of the most outspoken critics of Trump among European leaders. The two clashed at the G7 summit in Canada last month. That summit ended in disarray and a spat between Trump and Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister. Nato officials are clinging to hopes that the Nato summit will not end the same way.