Washington wants to withdraw as many as 15,000 troops from Germany, not 9,500 as earlier reported by the Wall Street Journal, Spiegel has reported.
According to the magazine, the White House informed Congress of its plans to remove between 5,000 and 15,000 troops from the central European country by as soon as autumn of 2020.
Spiegel says Berlin was not informed of Washington’s decision, noting that given “the scope of the plans, the move could certainly be called a provocation.”
An unnamed German government official cited by Bloomberg confirmed Saturday that the government wasn’t officially notified, and had to find out about Trump’s reported plans through the media.
Spiegel speculates that the decision to remove the troops may have been made out of US displeasure over Chancellor Merkel’s rejection of Trump’s invitation to the June G7 summit in Washington last week, which she attributed to coronavirus risks, that forced the US to postpone the meeting.
WSJ’s sources, meanwhile, claim that the planned drawdown of US troop numbers has been in the cards since at least last fall.
US troops have been in Germany since the end of the Second World War, remaining in the country throughout the Cold War, ostensibly to defend against a Soviet invasion, and then continuing to remain stationed there nearly three decades after the Warsaw Pact was dissolved and the USSR collapsed in 1991. The country has become a major military hub for US power projection, serving as a transit points for the transportation of troops and equipment to Iraq and Afghanistan, and used as operational command for US missions in Africa, as well as a control point for US drone missions in the Middle East.
These operations have prompted demonstrators to repeatedly stage protests outside US bases, with lawmakers from the opposition Die Linke party repeatedly demanding that US troops leave Germany, and that Berlin begin to pursue a more independent foreign policy.
Soon after hearing about the WSJ report on US plans to redeploy troops out of Germany, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told Polish media that he “deeply” hoped at least some of these forces could be relocated to Poland.