In a combative start to his NATO visit, President Trump asserted Wednesday that a pipeline project has made Germany "totally controlled" by and "captive to Russia" and blasted NATO allies' defense spending, opening what was expected to be a fraught summit with a list of grievances involving American allies. Trump, in a testy exchange with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, took issue with the US protecting Germany when the European nation is making deals with Russia. "I have to say, I think it's very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia where we're supposed to be guarding against Russia," Trump said. "We're supposed to protect you against Russia but they're paying billions of dollars to Russia and I think that's very inappropriate."
Without mentioning Trump, Angela Merkel batted the accusation down, referencing her upbringing in communist East Germany. "I've experienced myself a part of Germany controlled by the Soviet Union and I'm very happy today that we are united in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany and can thus say that we can determine our own policies and make our own decisions and that's very good." Trump appeared to be referring to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that would bring gas from Russia to Germany's northeastern Baltic coast, bypassing Eastern European nations like Poland and Ukraine and doubling the amount of gas Russia can send directly to Germany, the AP reports. Trump said that, "Germany, as far as I'm concerned, is captive to Russia" and urged NATO to look into the issue. Trump, who has been accused of being too cozy with Putin, is expected to see Merkel later in the day. (Trump already got into it with the EU chief.)