US President Donald Trump has taken to Twitter to justify the partial withdrawal of US forces from Germany, accusing Berlin of being “delinquent” on its NATO commitment to spend 2 percent of GDP on defence, and asking why America should “protect” a country that’s buying billions of dollars’ worth of Russian energy supplies.
Germany pays Russia billions of dollars a year for Energy, and we are supposed to protect Germany from Russia. What’s that all about? Also, Germany is very delinquent in their 2% fee to NATO. We are therefore moving some troops out of Germany!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2020
Trump’s tweet followed a press conference by Secretary of Defence Mark Esper Wednesday where the Pentagon chief confirmed that the US would be withdrawing about 11,900 troops from Germany, with the redeployment expected to begin in the next few weeks.
According to Esper, about 5,600 of the repositioned Army and Air Force troops will be redeployed to other NATO nations, including in the Baltic states, Poland , and NATO’s southeastern flank, with 6,400 others to be sent back home to the United States.
Lawmakers from both parties criticized Trump’s pullout plans, with Republican Senator Mitt Romney calling the plan a “grave error” and a “gift to Russia.” Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, meanwhile, suggested that the Senate should block Trump’s decision, which he said would weaken US efforts to ‘counter Russia’ in Eastern Europe.
German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer expressed regret over Washington’s decision. Chancellor Angela Merkel, meanwhile, suggested that the European Union could become the basis for a new “multilateral alliance” as US military assistance “is no longer self-evident.”
US troops have been stationed in Germany since the end of the Second World War, when the US, the UK, France and the Soviet Union divided the country up into four occupation zones. In 1949, the occupation zones became West and East Germany, and US forces justified their presence in West Germany to counter the alleged Soviet threat. In the early 1990s, following German unification, and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the USSR, the former Soviet Group of Forces in Germany completed its withdrawal from the reunified country. US forces remained behind, however, and have used Germany heavily as a logistical hub and drone warfare operations control center during the War on Terror.