Trump is undermining Merkel as she tries to stand up to Putin

The president’s decision to withdraw more than a quarter of the U.S. troops stationed in her country leaves Chancellor Angela Merkel exposed at a moment when she’s facing growing pressure to get tough with Vladimir Putin and was welcomed in the Russian capital.

“It’s spitting in Merkel’s face,” said Vladimir Frolov, a former Russian diplomat who’s now a foreign policy analyst. “But it’s in our interests.”…

Merkel, an arch-pragmatist, has a history of trying to engage with Putin and went out on a limb to sustain ties with the Kremlin since Russia was sanctioned by the EU over Crimea, pushing ahead with the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline across the Baltic in the face of increasing hostility from Washington. There are now doubts as to whether the $15 billion link will ever be completed with the U.S. threatening sanctions on companies that get involved. German officials say they are frustrated they’ve got so little back for their investment in Putin.

Now the chancellor is coming under pressure domestically because of new revelations about the role of Russian military intelligence in a cyberattack on the Bundestag in 2015 and a gangland-style execution in Berlin last summer as well as fresh tensions in negotiations on Ukraine, according to German officials.