President Donald Trump reportedly had an “invoice” printed out outlining the sum estimated by his aides in covering German’s unpaid contributions to NATO. According to German government sources, the letter was handed over to the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, during private talks with President Trump. One German Minister labeled the demand as “outrageous,” saying its concept was to “intimidate the other side,” but the German Chancellor took it calmly and is not expected to respond to such “provocation.”
Sources indicate that the bill was backdated to 2002, a year when Merkel’s predecessor, Gerhard Schroder, pledged to spend more on defense.
According to the Independent UK:
The Times [UK] quoted a German government minister as saying the move was “outrageous”.
The unnamed minister said: “The concept behind putting out such demands is to intimidate the other side, but the Chancellor took it calmly and will not respond to such provocations.”
And the paper quoted a source close to Mrs. Merkel saying she has “ignored the provocation.”
The day after President Trump tweeted:
“Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with the Chancellor Angela Merkel. Nevertheless, Germany owes … vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!”
In response to the claims, German defense minister Ursula Von der Leyen rejected the notion the European nation owed the US or Nato.
She issued a statement saying: “There is no debt account at Nato. Defence spending also goes into UN peacekeeping missions, into our European missions and into our contribution to the fight against [Isis] terrorism.”
Her comments were backed by Ivo Daalder, permanent representative to Nato from 2009 to 2013 under the Obama administration, who queried the President’s understanding of the organization.
He tweeted: “Sorry Mr President, that’s not how Nato works. The US decides for itself how much it contributes to defending Nato. This is not a financial transaction, where Nato countries pay the US to defend them. It is part of our treaty commitment.”