German lawmakers have reacted to threats made by the US envoy to Berlin, Richard Grenell, saying that Berlin may use the ultimatum as an opportunity to push for the withdrawal of all American assets from Germany.
“The US ambassador is right: US taxpayers should not have to pay for US troops in Germany,”Bartsch said, according to the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung. He also suggested that any potential troop withdrawal should be total and complete. “If the Americans pull out their soldiers, they also have to pull out their nuclear weapons,” he insisted.
And of course, these must be brought back home and not to Poland because it would provoke a further escalation in our ties with Russia, which doesn’t serve European and German interests.
The spat began earlier this week when Grenell demanded that Germany increase its defense spending, arguing that it was “really insulting to expect the US taxpayer to keep paying for over 50,000 Americans” stationed in the European country.
The complaint was followed by a suggestion from the US envoy in Warsaw, who advocated for US troops to relocate to Poland – an ally which, unlike Germany, “spends two percent of its GDP on NATO.”
Other lawmakers were also unappreciative of Grenell’s ultimatum. Thomas Hitschler, a member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), described the ambassador’s remarks as “highly problematic” and “indecent.” He added that Grenell’s criticisms of Germany’s financial contribution towards NATO do not correspond with reality.
Hitschler described how Pentagon officials had praised Berlin’s defense commitments during a recent visit he’d made to Washington.
The secretary-general of the SPD, Lars Klingbeil, went one step further, accusing Grenell of trying to bully Berlin. “We will not be blackmailed by the Americans,” he told the Augsburger Allgemeine.
Germany has been at odds with its longtime strategic ally for quite some time, having been reluctant to involve itself in Washington’s most recent military adventures. Berlin has refused to join US- and UK-led naval patrols in the Persian Gulf, after Iran seized a British-flagged tanker in retaliation for its own oil carrier being captured by the UK near Gibraltar.