German Chancellor Angela Merkel hit back at President Donald Trump after he accused Germany of being “totally controlled by Russia”‘ and urged allies to look into the issue during a rant at the outset of this week’s NATO summit in Brussels.
“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,” Merkel told reporters in response to Trump’s comment’s.
The president’s startling tirade against Germany early on Wednesday included suggestions that the country’s support for Nord Stream 2, a pipeline project that would bring gas from Russia to Germany, was a security threat to Europe. “How can you be stronger when a country is getting energy from the person you want to protect against?” Trump asked.
During the breakfast meeting, Trump targeted Germany with his continued complaint that NATO members do not spend enough on their own defense. The combative remarks appeared to rattle the president’s aides, including White House chief of staff John Kelly and NATO ambassador Kay Hutchinson.
The remarks come as Trump is set to meet next week with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He recently suggested that his relationship with Putin is “easier” than his relationships with US allies in Britain and Europe.
By accusing a global rival of having unsavory ties with Russia—at the moment investigators are looking into the president’s own unsavory ties with Russia—Trump is continuing his use of the so-called “boomerang insult,” a strategy that seeks to deflects attacks against him on to his critics.