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Donald Trump on Wednesday confirmed plans to pull out nearly one-third of US troops from Germany to relocate his forces headquarters from Stuttgard to Belgium. The US President had been floating the idea for months, sparking concerns about the impact the move would have on the security of the European continent amidst heightening tensions with Russia. DW reporter Jona Kallgren suggested the decision could ultimately cause some chaos in the European Union due to concerns over the eastern borders of the bloc.
Mr Kallgren said: “Just geographically, people thought troops would relocate east, towards Russia, specifically in Poland.
“There is still a possibility some troops will end up there but the majority of the troops will end up in Italy and Belgium, so further away from Russia.
“That obviously has an impact on the security thinking of the European Union, of Europe as whole. Really, what they are hoping for, is security in the east rather than anything else.”
President Trump had previously criticised Chancellor Angela Merkel for Germany’s failure to meet NATO defence payment requirements.
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Writing on Twitter after the announcement, the US President said: “Germany pays Russia billions of dollars a year for Energy, and we are supposed to protect Germany from Russia.
“What’s that all about? Also, Germany is very delinquent in their 2% fee to NATO.
“We are therefore moving some troops out of Germany!”
Speaking to the press, Mr Trump added: “We’re reducing the force because they’re not paying their bills. It’s very simple.
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Secretary of Defense Mark Esper insisted the removal of 11,900 troops from longtime ally Germany will “strengthen NATO and enhance the deterrence of Russia.”
Secretary Esper said: “As anyone can see, the repositioning of our forces in Europe constitutes a major strategic and positive shift, wholly in line with the NDS, and consistent with other adjustments the United States has made within NATO in previous times.”
However, President Trump’s decision sparked criticism within both the GOP and the Democratic Party, with one Republic Senator lashing out at Mr Trump of his “lack of strategic understanding.”
Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse insisted US troops stationed in Germany are key to containing the threat of China and Russia to both Europe and the US.
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Mr Sasse said: “U.S. troops aren’t stationed around the world as traffic cops or welfare caseworkers – they’re restraining the expansionary aims of the world’s worst regimes, chiefly China and Russia.
“The president’s lack of strategic understanding of this issue increases our response time and hinders the important deterrent work our servicemen and women are doing.”
Democrats Senator Jack Reed questioned Secretary Esper’s ability to stand up to the President to protect the security interests of both the US and its allies in Europe.
Senator Reed said: “This is the type of move Secretary Mattis was able to stand up to in the past, but this administration seems to be unraveling under the strain of the pandemic.”
Around 4,500 troops are expected to be sent home to the US while remaining personnell will be redeployed around Europe.
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