Trump brands Germany a "captive of Russian Federation", days before he meets Putin

U.S. President Donald Trump attends a meeting of the North Atlantic Council during a summit of heads of state and government at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday

German Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared to hit back at US President Donald Trump's claim that "Germany is a captive of Russia" by drawing on her own upbringing in Soviet-controlled East Germany.

"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, and you tell me if that's appropriate because I think it's not and I think it's a very bad thing for Nato", Trump said, adding that "Germany is a captive of Russia".

He said Trump must make it clear to Putin that Russian Federation must cease meddling in USA and European elections, do something about the annexation of Crimea, work with the U.S.to remove Syrian dictator Bashar Assad from power and put the squeeze on Iran.

Trump said of Germany: "We're supposed to protect you against Russian Federation and yet you make this deal with Russian Federation". Despite Merkel's tough talk over Russia's annexation of Crimea and sponsorship of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine, she has defended the $11 billion pipeline deal to supply her country's energy shortfall.

Trump's comments referred to Berlin's support for the construction of the $12 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline to bring gas across the Baltic Sea into the European continent.

In his statement posted on Twitter, Kerry said Trump's broadside against an American ally had weakened the United States.

Canada only contributed 1.29% of its GDP, while Germany - which has drawn criticism from President Trump - spent 1.24% of its GDP on defense a year ago.

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Mr Stoltenberg later said that Mr Trump had a "direct language and message on defence spending" but insisted that "we fundamentally all agree" that the burden of defence spending should be shared.

US President Donald Trump has urged North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies to commit 4% of their GDP to military spending - double the current target.

Not all are on track to meet the 2 percent pledge, and Germany is particularly remiss, though it has beefed up spending by billions of dollars.

"I subscribe the view that we shouldn't be criticizing our president when he's overseas", said House Speaker Paul Ryan. According to Stoltenberg, eight countries would meet the 2 percent target this year and a "majority" put forward plans to do so by 2020 - compared to only three countries who were meeting the commitment in 2014.

But the US president did not stop his criticism of Germany there.

Trump is due to meet Putin on Monday in Helsinki.

With tensions in the Western alliance running high over Trump's trade tariffs on European steel and his demands for more contributions to ease the burden on US taxpayers, the latest remarks fuelled concerns among allies over the USA role in keeping the peace that has reigned since World War II.

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