US President Donald Trump accused Germany on Wednesday of being a "captive" of Russia due to its energy reliance in a startling outburst before a NATO summit where he pressed allies to more than double spending on their own defence.
Having lambasted NATO members for letting U.S. taxpayers pay to keep them safe from Russia by failing to spend a target two percent of national income on defence, Trump told fellow leaders he would prefer a target of four percent of GDP - similar to U.S. levels - according to U.S. and foreign officials.
That would represent a massive upheaval of budgetary priorities in Europe where Germany and many others have pledged only to reach two percent by 2030. Asked to confirm Trump's proposal, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg did not give a direct answer but said the aim first was to reach two percent.
A White House official said four percent was not a formal proposal. U.S. defence spending in 2017 was 3.6 percent of GDP.
Leaders formally reiterated their "unwavering commitment" to raising spending and to better share the costs of joint defence.
Before the other leaders gathered, Trump told Stoltenberg that Germany was wrong to support an $11-billion Baltic Sea pipeline to import even more Russian gas while being slow to meet targets for NATO spending to protect against Russia.
"We're supposed to be guarding against Russia and Germany goes out an...