United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday accused Germany of becoming “a captive of Russia”, while criticising Berlin for supporting a Baltic Sea gas pipeline deal with Moscow, Reuters reported. Trump described the relationship between Germany and Russia as inappropriate.

The US president was speaking at a meeting with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels. “I think it is very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia,” Trump said. “We are supposed to be guarding against Russia, and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions dollars a year to Russia.”

He further said: “If you look at it, Germany is a captive of Russia. They got rid of their coal plants, they got rid of their nuclear, they’re getting so much of their oil and gas from Russia. I think it is something NATO has to look at. It is very inappropriate.”

Germany has extended support to the $11-billion pipeline to bring Russian gas across the Baltic Sea, according to Reuters. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that the project is a private commercial venture, not funded by German taxpayers, Reuters reported.

“Germany will have almost 70% of their country controlled by Russia with natural gas. You tell me, is that appropriate?” Trump asked Stoltenberg.

Trump also renewed his call for other NATO member states to pay more towards military spending. “Germany is just paying just a little bit over 1% [of GDP on NATO defence contributions] whereas the United States is paying 4.2% of a much larger GDP. So I think that’s inappropriate also,” he added, according to The Guardian.

Merkel denied Trump’s allegations and said Berlin made its own decisions and policies. She said she did not need lessons on dealing with authoritarian regimes.

“Germany is the second largest provider of troops, the largest part of our military capacity is offered to Nato and until today we have a strong engagement towards Afghanistan,” Merkel said, hitting back at the US president’s criticism, according to The Guardian. “In that we also defend the interests of the United States.”