On "America's Newsroom", former US ambassador to the United Nations and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) said meeting with Putin is the right move for Trump. Previous U.S. presidents have been raising the same issues in Brussels and Berlin for decades, sometimes in blunt words; President Barack Obama also complained about European "free riders". And I don't think it should have happened and I think we have to talk to Germany about that.

Trump repeatedly pressed Jens Stoltenberg, NATO's secretary general, on why the US continued to pay money to the military alliance while countries continue to purchase energy from Moscow.

The president appeared to be referring to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that would double the amount of gas Russian Federation can send directly to Germany, skirting transit countries such as Ukraine.

"President Trump makes public adversaries out of our friends, and turns our adversary, who has been attacking America's democracy, into his fawned-over ally". "We can't put up with it", he said.

As the day began, Trump wasted no time going on the offensive as he began a week of high-stakes diplomacy on both sides of the former Cold War divide.

Trump said it was "very inappropriate" that the USA is contributing to the defence of Europe when one of its richest countries is supporting a major energy project with Moscow. Asked if they had discussed the pipeline, he said they had, but declined to elaborate.

The president's tweet about Germany came after he had what he described as a "great meeting" with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. "We decide our own policies and make our own decisions". "He diminishes alliances we built to safeguard an economic and strategic force that has allowed millions of people to live in freedom", Kerry continued.

Trump has preferred to take aim at allies.

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The defense minister agreed with Trump about defense spending.

The comments will have made for uncomfortable viewing for the rest of Nato's 29 members, whose officials have voiced fears that Mr Trump could undermine the alliance during the gathering.

"It was also because of your leadership", Stoltenberg told Trump.

The US president launched a blistering attack on Germany as he stepped up demands for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies to contribute more to their collective defence.

"Explain that", Trump said. "And it can't be explained, and you know that". Munich's Süddeutsche Zeitung headlined its story: "It is not only bad, it is catastrophic".

The Trump administration is now trying to derail a German-Russian project to double the capacity of the underwater Nord Stream gas pipeline. "It's about $2.8 billion and the USA pays 22 percent of that, not 90 percent".

Trump said Germany's closure of coal and nuclear power plants on environmental grounds had increased its dependence, like much of the rest of Europe, on Russian gas. So, in a stroke, he shifted attention away from his own ties to the Kremlin just days before he meets one-on-one with Putin.