US to withdraw 12,000 troops from Germany as Trump blasts Berlin


WASHINGTON — The United States is set to pull out some of its troops from Germany amid President Donald Trump’s long-simmering feud with Berlin.

The US military on Wednesday unveiled plans to withdraw about 12,000 troops from Germany but said it will keep nearly half of those forces in Europe to deal with Russia.

Trump’s move has drawn strong opposition from US Democrats who believe it will embolden Russia.

Trump announced his intention last month to cut by about a third the 36,000-strong US troop contingent in Germany, accusing Berlin of failing to meet NATO’s defense spending target.

“We don’t want to be the suckers anymore,” Trump said at the White House on Wednesday about the decision. “We’re reducing the force because they’re not paying their bills; it’s very simple.”

Trump took to Twitter later in the day, justifying his decision. He said: “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!

Meanwhile, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, however, did not portray the pullout in those terms, suggesting it was part of a broader plan to reposition US forces in the region.

He said it was "a major strategic and positive shift" that would "unquestionably achieve the core principles of enhancing the US and NATO deterrence of Russia".

The decision has been criticized by German officials, with the chairman of the country's foreign affairs committee suggesting it would "weaken the NATO alliance".

There was also bipartisan criticism in Washington. "This is a self-inflicted wound... against American interests," Democratic Senator Jack Reed said.

Republican Senator Mitt Romney described the decision to remove troops from Germany as a "grave error" and "a slap in the face at a friend and ally". — Agencies