Trump told Germany at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels on Wednesday that it was wrong to support an $11-billion Baltic Sea pipeline to import even more Russian gas while being slow to meet North Atlantic Treaty Organisation targets for defence spending.
Trump then held an impromptu press conference.
Trump's assertion that Russia is a competitor and not an adversary is contrary to the judgments of USA intelligence agencies and his chief diplomat, Mike Pompeo, who at his April confirmation hearing to be Secretary of State, said the United States needs "to push back in each place we confront them", referring to the Russians.
EU President Donald Tusk stepped up to the fight with his own salvo against Trump on Tuesday, telling him to "appreciate your allies" and reminding him Washington that Europe had come to its aid following the 9/11 attacks.
The Kremlin yesterday (12 July) rejected US President Donald Trump's description of Germany as a "captive" of Russian Federation due to its energy reliance, saying his statement was part of a US campaign to bully Europe into buying American energy supplies.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday told CNN that the organisation's member countries have committed to defence spending at two percent of GDP, but would not confirm US President Donald Trump's claim that the target was actually four percent.
"The fact is that we have a commitment to increase defense spending".
He added the USA criticism of the planned Nord Stream 2 pipeline was rooted in Washington's desire to encourage European Union nations to buy more expensive liquefied gas from the U.S.
Amid the tumult, British Prime Minister Theresa May sounded a call for solidarity among the allies, saying, "As we engage Russian Federation we must do so from a position of unity and strength - holding out hope for a better future, but also clear and unwavering on where Russian Federation needs to change its behaviour for this to become a reality".
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Trump Says 'No Problem' In NATO, Touting Allies' Spending Pledges
President Donald Trump holds a news conference after participating in the NATO Summit in Brussels , Belgium July 12, 2018. Interested in Donald Trump? Trump said he let countries know during this week's summit that he was "extremely unhappy".
With allies fearing he could strike some sort of deal with Nato's key adversary, Trump said that he saw Putin as a "competitor" but not an "enemy".
He also vowed to raise allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election, amid an ongoing United States investigation into whether his campaign colluded with Moscow.
This gives Putin, who invaded the Ukrainian territory of Crimea in early 2014 without major reaction from the West, even more leeway to shape the global balance of power despite its relative economic weakness versus major adversaries like China and the United States.
Peskov said Moscow regarded U.S. objections to the new pipeline as "unfair competition" aimed at trying to force European countries to buy costlier USA liquefied natural gas.
During a press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May, President Donald Trump said that there won't be a "Perry Mason" moment when asked how he will address election meddling with Russian President Vladimir Putin. "I just don't know".
Trump heads next to the United Kingdom.
"I have to tell you that the atmosphere last night at dinner was very open, was very constructive and it was very positive", Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, the president of Croatia, told reporters.
Despite repeated US warnings that companies involved in the deal also risk being slapped with sanctions, Nord Stream 2 is scheduled for completion next year.
Merkel said she welcomed the chance to have an "exchange of views" with Trump.