President Trump and Melania at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation welcoming ceremony in Belgium

President Trump and Melania at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation welcoming ceremony in Belgium

Under fire for his warm embrace of Russia's Vladimir Putin, Trump on Wednesday turned a harsh spotlight on Germany's own ties to Russian Federation, alleging that a natural gas pipeline venture with Moscow has left Angela Merkel's government "totally controlled" and "captive" to Russian Federation.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Donald Trump talk during a family photo ahead of the opening ceremony of the NATO summit, at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, on July 11, 2018. "They got rid of their coal plants".

The criticisms of America's allies come days before Mr. Trump is slated to meet with Russia's Vladimir Putin - whom he often says he wants to get along with - in Helsinki, Finland.

Here's why Trump is upset.

Berlin has given political support to the building of a new, $11-billion pipeline to bring Russian gas across the Baltic Sea called Nord Stream 2, despite qualms among other European Union states.

"Everybody's talking about it all over the world, they're saying we're paying you billions of dollars to protect you but you're paying billions of dollars to Russian Federation".

Merkel also noted that she grew up in Germany during a time when part of Germany "was controlled by the Soviet Union" and pointedly noted that Germany can now "form our own independent policies and can make independent decisions". "We have a tremendous relationship with Germany", he said.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

"As we engage Russian Federation we must do so from a position of unity and strength - holding out hope for a better future, but also clear and unwavering on where Russian Federation needs to change its behaviour for this to become a reality", she planned to say.

There is concern that Trump's decision to meet with Putin right after attending the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit and taking a trip to the United Kingdom, a key North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member, spells trouble for the alliance.

Trump on Wednesday turned a harsh spotlight on Germany's own ties to Russian Federation.

Many Eastern European officials fear the undersea method could allow a hostile Moscow to shut off fuel shipments to perceived enemies such as Ukraine, for example, while still getting the fuel to Germany, which upon completion of the project would become the continent's No. 1 natural gas hub. One, on the US East Coast, will protect transatlantic sea lanes and another, in Germany, will run logistics to make sure the alliance can respond quickly to threats.

Her endorsement of the Trump-Putin meeting attempts to cut off awkward questions about Trump's commitment to Nato, an organisation he has openly and repeatedly criticised, which has dogged the ongoing Nato summit and threatened to undermine Trump's visit to London later this week.

And while she noted the "emphasis on burden-sharing", Hutchison focused on the fact that "every one of our allies - 100% - are increasing defense spending" and noted that United States allies are "on track to make the 2% pledge" regarding defense spending as a proportion of GDP.

"The United States is paying far too much and other countries are not paying enough, especially some".

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose country also lags on the two percent pledge, said the focus should be on "outputs" rather than on how much is spent.

"If we have a summit that is anything like the G7, where a US President is insulting fellow leaders, is refusing to sign an agreement at the end, that would play directly into Putin's hands", he said, referencing the displays of tension between Trump and allied leaders over trade when they gathered in Canada last month. "Why are there only 5 out of 29 countries that have met their commitment?

If he bullies European leaders into spending more domestically, I think it would be foolish for them to spend as much as he wants them to because they will be seen as essentially just obeying his commands", Braw said. "And so alliances are a lot more than the balance sheet, and I don't think he fully understands that".

Trump has had a less than friendly relationship with Merkel since the start of his presidency.

"Dear America, appreciate your allies, after all you don't have all that many", he said.

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