In a Wednesday meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Trump shocked the room by complaining that “Germany is totally controlled by Russia.” The focus of the president’s ire was Germany’s reliance on Russia for roughly a third of its natural gas. “How can you be together when a country is getting its energy from the person you want protection against or from the group that you want protection against?” Trump asked.
Although Trump’s attack took onlookers aback, it follows a familiar pattern. Under fire for alleged collusion with the Russian government, Trump responds by complaining about others who have Russia ties. It’s a reprise of the famous exchange he had with Hillary Clinton in 2016, where he turned around the idea of being “Putin’s puppet” by saying, “No puppet. No puppet. You’re the puppet.”
The remarks are also of a piece with Trump’s habit of attacking American allies, as he did both before and after the G-7 summit. While it’s true that German reliance on Russian natural gas is a longstanding concern, Trump’s deployment of the issue in a public forum to berate Germany seems opportunistic.
Further, as Atlantic columnist David Frum points out, Trump misunderstands the actual American objections to a pipeline between Germany and Russia.
Another major claim is also factually incorrect. “Germany is totally controlled by Russia because they will be getting from 60 percent to 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline,” Trump said. In fact, only 9 percent of Germany’s energy comes from Russia, so it’s virtually impossible that it will jump that high.