BERLIN, Germany – Berlin should not skimp on defense because “Russia is at the door,” said US ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell.
“NATO asks for 2% by 2024. Germany’s NATO promise to raise defense spending to 1.5 percent is not enough. Again, it is not US standards that have to be met here, but NATO commitments that Berlin has already agreed to and capabilities that they’ve already signed up for. The US is simply reminding its great German ally that now is not the time to undercut or weaken NATO. With the Russians at the doorstep, it should be clear to everyone that NATO needs strengthening instead,” the ambassador said in an interview with the Welt am Sonntag newspaper a few days before the meeting of defense ministers of NATO in Brussels.
According to the diplomat, he understands “that the German public wants more domestic spending instead of increasing their military budget.”
“And what is wrong about wanting to fix something that you believe in? When the US president steps up defense spending despite some criticism, he is then able to credibly demand that the US allies do the same,” he added.
At the same time, Grenell denied rumors that the US might abandon the military alliance and said “the US is totally committed to NATO. Donald Trump has made that clear, but he also seeks to improve it.”
In July 2016, NATO approved an unprecedented increase in its military presence in Eastern Europe, which included the deployment of multinational battalions in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland as part of a policy of containment of Russia, which was accused of destabilization of the situation in Ukraine.
Commenting on the situation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the alliance is aware that Russia does not plan to attack any country and use the alleged Russian threat to justify sending weapons and troops near Russian borders.