BERLIN – An envoy of U.S. President Donald Trump suggested on Friday that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s unwillingness to boost defense spending might give the United States no choice but to move American troops stationed in Germany to Poland.
The comments by Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, signal Trump’s impatience with Merkel’s failure to raise defense spending to 2% of economic output as mandated by the NATO military alliance.
“It is offensive to assume that the U.S. taxpayers continue to pay for more than 50,000 Americans in Germany but the Germans get to spend their [budget] surplus on domestic programs,” Grenell told the dpa news agency.
Germany’s fiscal plans foresee the defense budget of NATO’s second-largest member rising to 1.37% of output next year before falling to 1.24% in 2023.
Eastern European countries like Poland and Latvia, fearful of Russia after it annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, have raised their military spending to the 2% target, drawing praise from Trump who wants Germany to do the same.