In recent months, public disputes between Germany and the US give rise to talk about the growing split in relations between the two countries. And if the sensational news about the withdrawal of US troops from Germany from Berlin did not cause much grief, the conflict around Nord Stream 2 (SP-2) looks like a prelude to the sanctions war between the closest allies: Germany has already announced its readiness to give an answer to new American restrictions. Izvestia understood how critical these differences were for both sides.
In early July, US President Donald Trump approved a plan for the redeployment of 9.5 thousand US troops from Germany, as a result of which their number in the republic will be reduced to 25 thousand. According to Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman, this step, among other things, “will strengthen Russian containment and strengthen “NATO will reassure the allies and develop the strategic agility of the United States, as well as the operational flexibility of the European Command of the United States.” This decision should be followed by consultations with US partners in the North Atlantic Alliance. In parallel, the topic is being discussed by the heads of the defense ministry of the two countries, Mark Esper and Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.
The fact that Washington intends to reduce its military presence in Germany, the American leader announced in mid-June. He linked such a decision with the claims of the States to the German leadership due to insufficient defense spending. According to Donald Trump, Berlin must pay for the deployment of the US military on its territory and, moreover, “return the debt of NATO” – in particular, increase investments in the collective defense of the alliance to 2% of GDP (in 2019, Germany invested 1.38 in this sector %).
The leadership of the republic reacted with restraint to the plans of the States. According to German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, “the American presence is important to ensure the security of not only Germany, but also the United States and Europe as a whole.” Such issues should be discussed, but the decision is made primarily by Washington, the diplomat said. German Chancellor Angela Merkel took a conciliatory position. According to her, Berlin knows that it should spend more on defense, and intends to further build up its military potential. “There is good reason to remain committed to the transatlantic defense community and our common nuclear umbrella,” she said in an interview with five European publications, expressing hope for continued defense cooperation with Washington.
- The USA is Germany’s most important ally. That is why we are pleased to receive American troops on our territory, ”Fritz Felgentre, representative of the ruling Social Democratic Party (SPD), on the Bundestag’s defense committee, told Izvestia. “Their presence allows us to continuously improve our cooperation and strengthens the bond between our peoples and the armed forces.”
At the same time, according to him, American troops, being part of the nationwide deterrent potential, have an indirect effect on the security sphere, which generally does not depend on the country in which the military is located.
Opposition forces in the Bundestag welcomed the US intention. According to Sevim Dagdelen, representative of the Left party in the Foreign Affairs Committee, told Izvestia, Germany does not need the US presence to ensure its defense and security. However, this is only the first step towards the complete withdrawal of US forces and nuclear weapons, she stressed. The Alternative for Germany (AdG) also advocates the withdrawal of American troops, but recognizes that for the FRG this is fraught with certain difficulties.
“This [withdrawal of the US military] will require Berlin to increase spending on its own army,” Peter Bistron, a representative of the AdG in the committee on international affairs, complained in an interview with Izvestia.
A potential candidate for the deployment of the American media contingent is Poland, where now there are from 4.5 thousand to 5.5 thousand US troops. Polish President Andrzej Duda expressed his readiness to accept additional US forces during Donald Trump’s visit to the White House in June. The American leader confirmed that part of this contingent will be on Polish territory.