Is Trump Pushing Germany Away from NATO?

  • The withdrawal of American troops is an attempt to manipulate Germany.
  • Germany is divided on Russia.
  • EU can create its own defense force.

On Wednesday, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, spoke at a joint press conference with President of Poland, Andrzej Duda. During a press conference, President Trump said that the United States plans to reduce American military personnel stationed in Germany.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, sometimes referred to by her initials, AKK, is a German politician serving as Minister of Defence since July 2019 and Chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) since the 2018 leadership election, succeeding Angela Merkel. On 10 February 2020, Kramp-Karrenbauer announced that she would resign her position as CDU leader later in the year and would not put herself forward as a candidate for chancellor for the 2021 federal election.

The withdrawal of American troops is an attempt to manipulate Germany to buy only from the US, and not from Russia. Germany buys certain types of oil and energy from Russia. In addition, according to Trump’s usual jargon, he said that Germany should pay $1 trillion for the security protection provided by the US.

At this time, the US is the largest donor to NATO, but it would seem that if the US stopped throwing money to Ukraine, it could save a lot. It is wiser to invest in Poland and strengthen the arsenal there.

Poland is not a swinging pendulum, and has no rampant corruption. In addition, Poland is quite loyal to the West, and does not so much sympathize with the former Soviet bloc and the ideology it brings.

Germany is divided on Russia. The older generations, who remember the postwar and Cold War eras, passionately dislike Soviet doctrine and, by extension, Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin reminds them of the old Soviet era, a leader ruling with an iron fist. The new generation seems to be more interested in trading and what’s best for them. Russia is in a similar scenario.

Recall the case of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Germany’s Minister of Defense and onetime successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel. She became leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and would become the next Chancellor if her party won the federal election next fall.

But even before the Coronavirus pandemic crisis, everything went wrong. A series of gaffes and missteps led to the CDU/CSU suffering its worst defeat of any kind (below 30% of the vote) in last year’s elections to the European Parliament. AKK announced her impending departure from the party leadership soon after.

Interestingly, AKK also spoke out against the transfer of part of the withdrawn American troops from Germany to Poland. Recalling the need to comply with the NATO-Russia founding act of 1997, according to which the Alliance refused to build up forces in Eastern Europe, “it is important that NATO adhere to these agreements.”

Notably, Germany was all for sanctions against Russia for the 2014 annexation of Crimea. However, given Trump’s harsh push to muscle his way to a deal, it is highly doubtful that Germany, which is the leading economy in the EU, will fall for such threats. In addition, since Germany is on the same continent as Russia, it does not want to stop all trade with Russia.

Russia definitely poses a threat to the Baltic States and, unintentionally, to Poland. This is especially true given the Kremlin’s desire to revive the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Deputy Aleksey Zhuravlyov introduced a bill at the end of May which proposed to cancel the decision of the Congress of People’s Deputies of the USSR from December 24, 1989. The measure condemned the signing of the Soviet-German non-aggression Pact of 1939.

This caused serious concern in the Baltic States, to the extent that Russian ambassadors were summoned by the foreign ministries to discuss the matter.  At the same time, it does not affect Germany as such, since the Pact effectively divides the spheres of power between Russia and Germany. Obviously, it is unlikely that Germany will support it and return to the goals of the last century.

In addition, in the past few years, negotiations have been held on the creation of the European Union’s own defense organization. Therefore, it is necessary to specifically address one’s own security needs. Moreover, the EU has long wanted to have a larger segment of the defense market. The US is the main supplier of defense equipment to NATO.

Germany, France and Italy wanted to expand their own sectors and increase sales and production. In turn, new jobs are being created. This is especially important because of the coronavirus pandemic, as large job losses are reported around the world, especially in the hospitality sector.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 29 North American and European countries. The organization implements the North Atlantic Treaty that was signed on 4 April 1949. NATO constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its independent member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party. NATO’s Headquarters are located in Evere, Brussels, Belgium, while the headquarters of Allied Command Operations is near Mons, Belgium.

If Trump keeps pushing Germany, it can just create its own strategy inside the EU, and start to give exclusive defense contracts inside the EU and create its own strength. The important fact is that by 2030, Germany should take over 10% of NATO’s military power, which means that Germany will make a significant contribution to security.

This will not be a good step for NATO, and may weaken the Alliance. Note that last year, NATO worked to create local initiatives, such as R-SOCC.  However, Germany does not always have a positive relationship with Russia. In December of last year, Germany expelled Russian journalists because of one of the murders that occurred the day before.

Moreover, internal unrest has been brewing for some time in Germany due to its dependence on the Anglo-Saxons for protection and defense. Trump’s latest comments about paying the US a trillion dollars could swing the pendulum of such groups too aggressively. It could push Germany’s defense away from the US, and inadvertently, NATO.

If this happens, it could lead to a division and resurrection of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact just in time. Thus, Germany chooses Russia not because of its own geopolitical agenda, and purely out of the aggressive push by US President Donald Trump.

However, the US will have an autumn election. Depending on the outcome of the election, the situation may change.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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