On Wednesday, the US announced an official plan to withdraw about 12,000 troops from Germany but will still keep half of Europe to prevent tensions with Russia. The move was the result of long-standing President Donald Trump’s conflict with Berlin over defense and trade spending.
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Last month, Trump announced his intention to cut a third of the 36,000 troops stationed in Germany after criticizing Germany for not fulfilling NATO’s defense spending obligations and abusing the United States for trade.
“We don’t want to be idiots anymore.”Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday when he passed the decision. “Cwe will reduce the number because they will not pay their own bills; simple as that ”.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the US withdrawal plan would ensure no harm to NATO and an attempt to counteract Russian intervention, given the risks posed after Russia annexed Crimea. of Ukraine in 2014.
In a statement that would upset Moscow, Esper said a portion of US troops would be mobilized to station in the Black Sea and another part could be taken to the Baltic Sea, that is, close to the Russian border.
Part of the troops leaving Germany will be stationed permanently in Italy and the US headquarters in Europe will leave from Stuttgart, Germany to Belgium.
In total, nearly 6,000 of the 12,000 US troops are expected to remain in Europe, the rest will return to station in the US but will gradually be transferred to Europe for temporary missions.
“I would like to inform you that this will help us to achieve the president’s goal of reducing the number of troops in Europe, as well as in line with other goals I have outlined in relation to the strategy.“Mr. Esper said, according to Reuters.
However, the deployment of troops from Germany was not easy and could soon happen. According to Reuters, US officials emphasized that only a small portion of the vanguard will move first, the majority will take many years to withdraw due to the expected cost of this activity billions of dollars.
A close aide to Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, said that if Biden was elected this November, he would reconsider Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Germany.
Still, the move to withdraw troops from Germany marked a major rift in relations for one of the United States’ largest military allies and trading partners, while both Italy and Belgium, the two countries benefiting from Trump’s decision is also among those that spend less on joint defense, according to NATO.
Germany clearly shows dissatisfaction with this decision. German Parliament Foreign Affairs Chairman Norbert Roettgen, an ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, said the US withdrawal would “weaken the NATO alliance”. But NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg mentioned the news in a positive manner, saying that allies were informed in advance by the United States. Latvian President Gitanas Nauseda said his country was willing to host more American troops.
“I attach great importance to the good news that the US refers to the possibility of moving more troops to the Baltic states.Mr. Nauseda said.
Since World War II, the United States has always regarded Germany as one of the most important strategic locations abroad, the bases in Germany served as an important logistics center for the United States to move its troops across Europe, even even to the Middle East, Africa and beyond.
After the fall of East Germany in 1989, the United States continuously reduced its troops in Germany from the original 200,000 soldiers.