U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell criticized on Friday the level of German defense spending, calling it “offensive” and repeating a threat to withdraw U.S. troops from Germany, the German Press Agency (dpa) reported.
“It is offensive to assume that the U.S. taxpayers will continue to pay for more than 50,000 Americans in Germany, but the Germans get to spend their surplus on domestic programs,” Grenell told the dpa and his statement was later posted on Twitter by the U.S. Embassy in Berlin.
Georgette Mosbacher, U.S. Ambassador to Poland, on Thursday had posted on Twitter that Poland was “fulfilling its payment obligation of two percent of GDP to NATO,” unlike Germany.
Mosbacher added that she “would welcome it if the American troops in Germany came to Poland.”
Back in June, during a visit by Polish President Andrzej Duda to Washington, U.S. President Donald Trump had suggested redeploying U.S. troops from Germany to Poland.
“Many presidents have asked Europe’s largest economy to pay for its own defense. That is a request that has dragged on for many years and many governments,” Grenell told the dpa in reference to the President’s remarks.
Carsten Schneider, first parliamentary director of the German Social Democratic (SPD) parliamentary group, rejected Grenell’s threat.
“These statements are completely inappropriate among allies,” Schneider told the German newspaper Spiegel, adding that Germany would not let itself be blackmailed.
“The American ambassador is apparently not prepared to take note of the fact that Germany has increased its defense spending,” Schneider noted.
The new German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer recently stated that “the defense budget must continue to rise” and promised that she would target 1.5 percent spending in 2024.
For 2023, German Minister of Finance Olaf Scholz was planning for defense expenditure to be 1.24 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
The U.S. ambassador “apparently deliberately disregards the contribution that the Bundeswehr and our soldiers make in dangerous foreign missions, often in countries and regions that have also been destabilized by the U.S. policy of the past decades,” Schneider told Spiegely.
There were currently 35,000 U.S. troops stationed in Germany, with an additional 17,000 U.S. and 12,000 German civilians employed by the U.S. military.
U.S. command centers for its troops in Europe and Africa are located in Stuttgart and the most important U.S. airbase in Europe is in the southwest of Germany.