US President Donald Trump says that he will pull 9,500 US troops out of Germany which he says has failed to meet NATO’s defense spending target.
Trump announced the cut on Monday which would leave 25,000 American troops in the European country, accusing Berlin of taking advantage of the US on trade too.
The reduction, which was first reported on June 5, would be a remarkable rebuke to one of the closest US trading partners.
It was unclear whether the plan would actually come to pass as some of the president’s fellow Republicans in Congress have criticized it, arguing a cut would be a gift to Russia.
“So we’re protecting Germany and they’re delinquent. That doesn’t make sense. So I said, we’re going to bring down the count to 25,000 soldiers,” Trump said, adding that “they treat us very badly on trade” without providing any details.
The US president went on to say that he would stick with the plan unless Germany changed course.
In 2014, NATO set a target requiring that each of its 30 members spend 2% of GDP on defense, but, most, including Germany, do not.
In response to Trump’s remarks, German Ambassador to the United States Emily Haber said US-German security cooperation, despite Washington’s plan, would remain strong.
“This is about transatlantic security but also about American security,” she told a virtual think tank audience.
Meanwhile, Phil Gordon of the Council on Foreign Relations think tank said that “there is sure to be significant bipartisan opposition to this move in Congress, so it is possible any actual moves are significantly delayed or even never implemented.”
“This move will further erode allies’ faith in NATO and US defense guarantees,” Gordon added, saying it may also “weaken the deterrence of Russia or anyone else who might threaten a NATO member.”
Currently, nearly 17,000 US civilian employees support US troops in Germany where it is believed the United States also has nuclear warheads.