Germany pushes back on Trump’s NATO demands

German officials, including Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, rejected that assertion and fired back that Trump did not understand how NATO’s finances actually work.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who like Tillerson was attending his first NATO ministerial gathering, told journalists in Brussels that the U.S. was wrongly interpreting a 2014 declaration by NATO leaders in Wales to step up efforts to reach the 2 percent goal. He said that while Germany was working to increase military spending, the target was not mandatory.

“Germany has to invest more in its defense capabilities … we have already increased defense spending by 13.7 percent under NATO criteria and will it increase by a further 7.9 percent,” Gabriel said. “It’s necessary because our army is not in a responsible shape.”

“However,” he said, “it is important to correctly quote the Wales declaration. Its guidelines say members should lean towards a 2 percent spending, but it is at no point written that this is a fixed goal and that every member state should invest 2 percent of its GDP in defense.”