Published On: Wed, Jul 29th, 2020

Donald Trump pulls troops out of Germany in huge snub to Merkel | World | News

US Defence Minister Mark Esper announced plans to withdraw troops from Germany to Washington on Wednesday. Estimates suggest 12,000 troops will be leaving Germany, with half of them returning to America, and the other half heading to Italy.

Mr Trump has accused Berlin of taking advantage of the US on trade and faulted the country for failing to meet NATO’s defence spending targets.

Mr Esper sought to present the pullout in a way that would prevent undermining NATO and its efforts to deter Russian intervention, following Moscow’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.

In remarks likely to irk Moscow, he said some US troops would reposition to the Black Sea region and some could temporarily deploy in waves to the Baltics.

The military plans, which were being outlined today at the Pentagon, follow on from an explosive row between Mr Trump and Ms Merkel. 

Germany pays only 1.38 percent of GPD on NATO compared to the 3.4 percent paid by the Americans. 

No full reason was given for the troop withdrawal, announced in June, but experts linked the move to Mr Trump’s anger towards German policy.

The Republican President last month announced his intention to cut the 36,000-strong US troop contingent in Germany. 

READ MORE: German fishing chief orders BAN on UK fish sales in EU

Norbert Roettgen, chairman of the German parliament’s foreign affairs committee, told Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper that the move would weaken NATO. 

He said: “Instead of strengthening NATO, the troop withdrawal will weaken the alliance.” 

“The effectiveness of the US military is not increased but reduced, especially with a view to Russia and ongoing military conflicts in the Middle East.”

The premiers of four German states that host American troops have appealed to members of the US Congress to block Mr Trump’s withdrawal.

Both current and former American officials have criticised Mr Trump’s decision and claimed it was politically, not strategically, motivated. 

If he is elected president, Democrat Joe Biden will review the Republican incumbent’s decision to withdraw the troops from Germany, a top aid in the Biden campaign said earlier this month.

American officials stressed that only a relatively small number of advanced units would move anytime soon.

The rest of the troop movements would take years to fully implement.

One US official said: “It will still be months to plan and years to execute because it is very complex.”

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.

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