Trump, Merkel, and Putin

Jonas J. Driedger

Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University

Dr. Jonas J. Driedger is a DAAD Postdoctoral Fellow at the Kissinger Center for Global Affairs at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University. At SAIS, Dr. Driedger researches transatlantic options for stability in the neighborhoods of Russia and China. He specializes in the causes of peace and conflict between major military powers and their less powerful neighbors, conflict-averting policy options of third states, the politics of regime survival, deterrence, “hybrid” conflict measures and security cooperation in international relations, with a regional focus on Russia and its relations to its neighboring states, Europe, and the United States.

Mr. Driedger was a Doctoral Researcher at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. In his dissertation, he assesses the causes of peace and armed conflict between major powers and nearby states with inferior military capabilities. A College of Europe graduate, he was an Alfa Fellow and Visiting Researcher at the Moscow Higher School of Economics. He taught and did fieldwork in Germany, Italy, Ukraine, and Russia. Apart from his academic publications, Jonas contributed analyses and policy advice in German, Russian, and English, including to the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, the Oxford University Changing Character of War Centre, Politico Europe, The National Interest, EUObserver, and EurActiv. His recent article, "Will Russia intervene in Belarus?" was published by the EUIdeas blog.

During his fellowship, Jonas investigated how the Trump presidency had affected U.S.-German security cooperation toward Russia. Were the bitter exchanges between Donald Trump and Angela Merkel indicative of a rapidly widening divergence on Russia? Trump expressed sympathy for Russian president Vladimir Putin, while Merkel, upon Trump’s electoral victory, called for European “strategic autonomy” and made future transatlantic cooperation contingent on adherence to fundamental values. Alternatively, one might well have asked whether these bitter public exchanges covered up that, at the policy level and between key mid-tier policymakers, there was little to no change in how the two countries cooperated toward Russia. These questions were particularly urgent, as Russian conduct was unlikely to become less aggressive. Recent constitutional reforms cemented Putin’s domineering position over Russia and the Kremlin continued assertive policies in Syria, Ukraine, and Western domestic affairs. With the United Kingdom having left the European Union, and France largely focused inward and toward Africa, the United States and Germany emerged as the key linchpin of effective Western policy toward Russia. Managing this relationship well required a thorough understanding of how the Trump presidency had affected it, and what the likely effects of the 2020 elections would be.

The DAAD/AICGS Research Fellowship is supported by the DAAD with funds from the Federal Foreign Office.

Lessons and Legacies for Transatlantic Cooperation toward Russia

Following Russia’s actions against Ukraine in 2014, Germany and the United States cooperated extensively to put into place an effective transatlantic response to Russia’s actions.[1] However, many have argued that, under the presidency of Donald J. Trump from 2016 to 2020, cooperation significantly worsened between the two most consequential powers on the American and European continents.[2]

But is this indeed the case? Has German-American cooperation toward Russia actually weakened between 2016 and 2020? And if so, is this due to the idiosyncrasies of Trump’s personality and worldview – or rather because of structural factors? Both views have adherents.[3] With a new Biden administration incoming, reliable answers to these questions hold important clues for how U.S. policymakers can better manage transatlantic security cooperation in the future.


Breaking long-established diplomatic protocol and norms, Trump has been vocal about his negative views on Germany and particularly Chancellor Angela Merkel.[4] For example, in 2017, Trump stated in an interview that he wasn’t sure if he could trust either Putin or Merkel, putting the leader of one of the United States’ main allies on equal footing with that of one of its declared rivals.[5] Trump has often connected or equated German policy with that of the EU, which he accused of taking advantage of the United States. He also termed the EU “a foe” in economic competition.[6]

Trump’s diplomatic appointments reflected his preferences. For a year after taking office, Trump did not officially nominate ambassadors to Germany and the EU. In 2018, he nominated Richard Grenell to Germany and Gordon Sondland to the EU. Quickly, both became known for their brash, disparaging, and confrontational styles. Grenell at times openly sided with right-wing populist groups that attacked and opposed the very administration that he was supposed to diplomatically engage.[7]

Trump’s rhetoric, appointments, and diplomatic style have complicated multilateral efforts toward Russia.

Simultaneously, Trump went out of his way to strike friendly tones with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, repeatedly stating his personal admiration and refusing to publicly criticize him.[8] Trump thereby sidestepped official U.S. stances and policies as well as a long-held transatlantic consensus to name, shame, and oppose various Russian actions, such as assassinations, disinformation and election interference in Western countries, fraudulent elections within Russia, and the Kremlin’s hybrid measures against Ukraine.[9] Trump drew particular ire and concerns when he stated he believed Putin’s word that Russia had not interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections even though the U.S. intelligence community had concluded it had.[10]

Trump’s rhetoric, appointments, and diplomatic style have complicated multilateral efforts toward Russia. For example, after its aggression against Ukraine in 2014, Russia was expelled from the prestigious G-8 forum. In 2015, Merkel resisted major German business interests’ efforts to readmit Russia into the now-G-7.[11] However, in 2018, Trump called for the inclusion of Russia into the G-7 summit, while his negotiators fought hard to prevent the inclusion of support for a rules-based international order in the final communique of the summit.[12] Trump again sought to include Russia in the 2020 G-7 summit, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

NATO, Troops, and Nukes

Trump was arguably the first U.S. president to all-out question the United States’ commitment to NATO’s collective defense obligations (Article 5), causing major strategic concerns in Germany and other European allies. Both on the campaign trail and in office, Trump announced U.S. alliance commitments would depend on sufficiently high levels of allies’ defense spending.[13] Internal sources indicate that this reflected actual beliefs and intentions of the president.[14] Two sources testify former chief of staff John Kelly told others that one of his most difficult tasks was trying to stop Trump from pulling out of NATO.[15]

The issue of defense spending caused further irritations. When the EU created an annual 5.5 billion euro research fund for future defense spending, high-ranking U.S. officials criticized the project as “protectionist” and expressed concerns about U.S. weapons manufacturers being left out of business opportunities.[16] To many in Berlin and Brussels, this hardened the impression that U.S. demands for higher defense spending had not been about effective security cooperation and fair burden-sharing to begin with.

To many in Berlin and Brussels, this hardened the impression that U.S. demands for higher defense spending had not been about effective security cooperation and fair burden-sharing to begin with.

In the summer of 2020, Trump suddenly announced the withdrawal of about 10,000 U.S. troops from Germany and cutting the maximum of U.S. troops in Germany from 34,500 to 25,000. Secretary of Defense Esper claimed on 29 July 2020 that the withdrawal was not at all designed as a punitive action by the U.S. president against Germany. However, Trump contradicted Esper’s statement only a few hours later on Twitter by writing “Germany pays Russia billions of dollars a year for Energy, and we are supposed to protect Germany from Russia. What’s that all about? Also, Germany is very delinquent in their 2%fee to NATO. We are therefore moving some troops out of Germany!”[17]

Various governmental sources from Germany and the United States indicate that this decision was reached without consulting with NATO partners, in an extremely short period of time, and between only three policymakers: Trump, his National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, and former ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, who at that point was the acting Director of National Intelligence.[18]

Likewise, the United States’ withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in 2019 was not coordinated with Germany and other European allies and caused further concerns and irritations.[19] German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas remarked that, with the INF Treaty, “a piece of Europe’s security has been lost.”[20]

This marks another clear break with the Obama administration, which had also argued Russian forward deployment of SSC-8 missiles violated the treaty. France and Germany had been reluctant to adopt the same rhetoric. Nonetheless, Obama had decided not to leave the agreement because of objections from Europeans, particularly Germany, and out of concern that it would rekindle an arms race.[21]


Under Trump, sanctions became another irritant in German-American security relations. Starting in 2014, Germany and the United States took the lead to implement a coordinated and consistent sanction regime toward Russia. In 2015, Obama emphasized to the President of the European Council the need for transatlantic unity in matters of sanctions.[22] During the same year, Merkel resisted pressure from French President Hollande to lift or ease sanctions.[23]

While Trump, at various points, opted for enacting or not vetoing sanctions on Russia, he always did so only after pressure from his advisors and U.S. allies. He also avoided endorsing these sanctions and aligning with the rationale of the sanctions relating to malign Russian conduct. This applies to the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) in 2017 as well as to the responses to the poisoning of Russian ex-agent Sergei Skripal in 2018, and that of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in 2020. [24]

CAATSA had been driven by Congress and further soured transatlantic cooperation. Congress did include into the final bill amendments to accommodate requests made by U.S. energy companies, in contrast to those of EU governments and businesses that were also affected.[25] It stands to reason that Congress in part wanted to protect established Russia-policy from a president that was overtly opposed to it, while Trump’s political opponents might have also seen it as a way of further emphasizing the accusations of collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia. [26]

During and after enactment, the EU Commission expressed concerns that the sanctions would harm EU energy policy and business and break transatlantic unity on Russia. It also hinted at future measures to prevent U.S. action against EU businesses and even considered economic retaliation.[27]

Under Trump, sanctions became another irritant in German-American security relations.

It did not help that Trump and others combined accusations of Germany being “Russia’s captive” due to the gas trade between the two countries with threats of economic punishment and the demand to buy liquified natural gas from the United States.[28] While the Trump administration was seemingly oblivious of the ironic contradiction in its performance, neither the German public nor elites were. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeted “We are no captives — neither of Russia nor of the United States.” [29] These German sentiments did not, however, weaken Europe’s policy toward Russia. Even though some EU member states pushed to weaken or remove sanctions on Moscow, Brussels and Berlin maintained their line throughout the Trump presidency.

Trump initially blamed CAATSA for deteriorating U.S. relations with Russia in a Twitter post, not even acknowledging the sanctions’ stated purpose as a response to Russian election interference and annexation of Crimea.[30] However, Trump later started to leverage the sanctions against the EU and especially Germany, preparing the sanctioning of European firms involved in the Nordstream 2 pipeline project in Summer 2020 amidst sharp German-American conflicts over defense spending and trade policy.[31]

With the pipeline project halted for over a year despite its near-completed state, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in response, “the U.S. administration is disrespecting Europe’s right and sovereignty to decide itself where and how we source our energy.”[32]


German-American unity over the Ukraine conflict also weakened during the Trump presidency. At the beginning of the conflict, Germany had ruled out sending lethal military aid to Ukraine.[33] Obama also did not send lethal aid, even though he was under pressure by the chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, the defense secretary, the director of national intelligence, the brass of the Democrat-leaning think tank community, and a unanimous bipartisan petition from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.[34] Senior U.S. administration officials confirmed that Obama adhered closely to Merkel’s preference to not ship lethal aid, committing to hold it off during the ongoing Minsk negotiations.[35]

According to various insider sources, Trump had initially also been opposed to providing lethal aid.  But elite security advisors long lobbied the president to clear the sending of military equipment, specifically anti-tank Javelin rocket launchers. Trump then changed his mind, but only after his advisors argued that aid would eventually benefit the U.S. weapons manufacturing industry.[36]

When accused of withholding cleared weapons for Ukraine in 2019, Trump publicly claimed that this was because Europe did not bolster Ukraine and that he would release the aid if the Europeans supported Ukraine. This claim is false. By most indicators, Ukraine had received more support from the EU than from the United States.[37] Disparaging a close ally without a clear reason or advantage, Trump also claimed in private conversations with the Ukrainian president that Germany was not supporting Ukraine.[38]


The Trump presidency has complicated all major areas of German-American cooperation toward Russia, including public rhetoric and diplomacy, multilateral negotiations, NATO policy, troop deployment, sanctions, Ukraine, and nuclear weapons. U.S. policy became both more volatile and unilateral in its approach to Russia, dismissing European concerns on major issues such as nuclear arms control on the continent. Simultaneously, conflict over trade and defense spending was increasingly tied to the common Russia policy, diminishing European trust in U.S. alliance commitments. Pre-existing tensions regarding German defense spending, Nordstream 2, Russian adherence to the INF, and lethal aid for Ukraine were exacerbated throughout the Trump presidency.

These interactions have affected elite and public perceptions on both sides of the Atlantic. While popular opinion of Trump is extremely low in Germany, views on the United States’ overall reliability have deteriorated as well.[39] Within the United States, the Trump presidency saw unprecedented partisan conflict over U.S. policy towards Europe and Russia. Support for NATO and opposition to Russia increased among Democrats but decreased among Republicans.[40]

The Trump presidency also revealed some persisting and politically consequential political forces within the United States that are committed to transatlantic cooperation toward Russia.

While these various “Trump factors” will arguably decline due to Trump’s electoral loss in November 2020, it is unclear to what extent this might be the case. There are signs that Trump’s influence is lasting. For example, in December 2020, more than 120 Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives formally asked the U.S. Supreme Court to prevent four swing states from casting electoral college votes for Joe Biden to seal his electoral victory. Thus, about two-thirds of the Republican caucus sided with Trump, associating for whatever reason with his repeatedly disproven claims of widespread electoral fraud and him having actually won the election.[41]

Cautious optimism is nonetheless warranted. Anti-American sentiments in Germany also soared during the presidency of George W. Bush but recovered under that of Obama. The Trump presidency also revealed some persisting and politically consequential political forces within the United States that are committed to transatlantic cooperation toward Russia.[42] For example, before the 2018 NATO summit, senior U.S. national security officials pushed NATO ambassadors to complete a formal agreement on several NATO goals (which included various measures against Russia) to shield these outcomes from the U.S. president.[43] Around the same time, both the Senate and the House passed bipartisan resolutions stating their support for NATO, even though Republicans largely avoided criticizing the president directly.[44] When, in summer 2020, Trump announced the troop withdrawal, twenty-two Republican members of Congress signed a letter opposing the decision.[45]


The Trump presidency provides (at least) four cautionary tales for U.S. policymakers in their future approaches toward Germany and Russia.

First, attempts to coerce allies into compliance, particularly influential ones like Germany, is unlikely to succeed.

For example, despite the Trump administration’s massive pressure and attempts to cajole Germany into significantly raising military spending, German projected spending increases declined between 2018 and 2019. German defense spending has remained well below U.S. expectations since.[46] Indeed, perceptions of the Trump administration trying leverage matters of security and defense for one-sided economic gains have arguably done more harm than good for U.S. manufacturers.[47]

Second, when designing policy, potentially negative side-effects on allies should be identified and compensated for wherever possible.

After the United States withdrew from the INF Treaty, only twenty-two percent of German respondents wanted Germany to continue to rely on the U.S. nuclear umbrella, while forty percent preferred relying on British and French nuclear deterrence. Thirty-one percent stated Germany should forego nuclear deterrence altogether.[48] German centrist elites have thus far sought to not politicize German policy within NATO to maintain allies’ goodwill. However, if skepticism among the German population grows further, incentives will grow further among the German elite to use this for domestic gains.

When the United States announced it would unilaterally leave the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) on Iran, it inadvertently and temporarily brought Germany and France closer together with Russia, as all three countries were part of the deal as well and sought to salvage it in the absence of alternatives offered by the United States.[49] In the light of these facts, extending the New START Treaty would arguably be a good first step for the Biden administration.[50]

Third, unilateral action that negatively affects allies will deteriorate their trust and future willingness to cooperate.

This simple fact has not been sufficiently understood by many Americans. In 2019, a poll found that only 34 percent of German respondents rated German-American relations somewhat good or better. In a clear disconnect, 75 percent of U.S. respondents rated the relationship good or better.[51]

Peculiarities of German domestic politics have thus far prevented anti-American sentiments in German society to become political mainstream. However, signs of change are starting to emerge, some of them clearly connected to U.S. policies. Merkel’s success in the 2017 Bundestag elections were aided by her image as Trump’s opposite. During the same election, the Social Democrats, still Germany’s second most powerful party, used opposition to Trump as a theme in their campaign, depicting increases in defense spending as kowtowing to him.[52] The EU’s recent rhetoric to strive toward “strategic autonomy” indicates that policies compensating for a lack of transatlantic unity have appeal across Europe.[53] Sympathetic reactions to Joe Biden’s electoral victory among both Germany’s society and its elite indicate that these trends can be reverted through the right diplomatic signals going forward.

Fourth, Obama-era policies of consistently incentivizing and enabling European ownership on Russia-related policies have proven more successful than the inconsistent and unilateral transactionalism during Trump’s presidency.

Merkel and Obama managed to realize consistent positions and policies, ranging from sanctions and policy toward Ukraine to NATO force deployment. What remained of German-American cooperation toward Russia under Trump was arguably not because of, but rather despite the U.S. president’s actions. Being democrat, the Biden incoming administration is likely to follow the example of Obama. In the light of how policy developed under both previous administrations, this is good news for the prospects of German-American cooperation toward Russia in the future. Leaders on both sides of the Atlantic have lessons to learn. But they also have a foundation to build on, as some ties continued to bind during the Trump administration.

Supported by the DAAD with funds from the Federal Foreign Office (FF).

[1] E.g. James Sperling and Mark Webber, “NATO and the Ukraine Crisis: Collective Securitisation,” European Journal of International Security 2, no. 1 (February 2017): 19–46,; Liana Fix, “The Different ‘Shades’ of German Power: Germany and EU Foreign Policy during the Ukraine Conflict,” German Politics 27, no. 4 (October 2, 2018): 498–515,; Jonas J. Driedger, “Bilateral Defence and Security Cooperation despite Disintegration:  Does the Brexit Process Divide the United Kingdom and Germany on Russia?,” European Journal of International Security, first view 2020.

[2] Lisbeth Aggestam and Adrian Hyde‐Price, “Double Trouble: Trump, Transatlantic Relations and European Strategic Autonomy,” JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies 57, no. S1 (2019): 114–27,; Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer and Martin Quencez, eds., Transatlantic Security Cooperation toward 2020, vol. 7, German Marshall Fund Policy Papers, 2019, For Germany’s increasingly prominent role in EU foreign and security policy, see Fix, “The Different ‘Shades’ of German Power”; Lisbeth Aggestam and Adrian Hyde-Price, “Learning to Lead? Germany and the Leadership Paradox in EU Foreign Policy,” German Politics 29, no. 1 (January 2, 2020): 8–24,

[3] In a summary assessment of an edited volume on the state of German politics after the 2017 Federal Parliament election, Eric Langenbacher states that “one of Germany’s most fraught external relationship is currently with the U.S. Much of this is due to the erratic leadership of the current president.” Eric Langenbacher, ed., Twilight of the Merkel Era : Power and Politics in Germany after the 2017 Bundestag Election (Berghahn, 2019), 308. On the other hand, Norbert Röttgen, prominent CDU politician and chairman of the German Parliament’s foreign relations committee, stated in February 2019 that Trump was not the cause of transatlantic rifts, but rather the symptom of geopolitical shifts leading to great power rivalry and diminishing multilateralism. Steven Erlanger and Katrin Bennhold, “Rift Between Trump and Europe Is Now Open and Angry,” The New York Times, February 17, 2019.

[4] “‘Why Germany?’ Trump’s Strange Fixation Vexes Experts,” POLITICO, July 12, 2018,

[5] Steven Erlanger, “A Worried Europe Finds Scant Reassurance on Trumpʼs Plans,” The New York Times, February 19, 2017.

[6] Quoted in Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer and Martin Quencez, Transatlantic Security Cooperation toward 2020, 7:4, FN 1. See also Steven Erlanger, “In a Change of Tone, U.S. Restores E.U.ʼs Diplomatic Status,” The New York Times, March 4, 2019.

[7] Erlanger, “In a Change of Tone, U.S. Restores E.U.ʼs Diplomatic Status”; Matthias Gebauer, Christiane Hoffmann, and René Pfister, “Rics Rache,” Der Spiegel, June 13, 2020, 25 edition.

[8] Peter Baker, “Combative Trump Pulls His Punches for One Man: Putin,” The New York Times, August 11, 2017.

[9] Peter Baker and Andrew E Kramer, “Trump Seeks Meeting With Putin Even as Allies Seek to Isolate Russia,” The New York Times, June 21, 2018; Michael Crowley and Maggie Haberman, “As Others Condemn Putin Criticʼs Poisoning, Trump Just Wants to ʻGet Alongʼ,” The New York Times, September 3, 2020; Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Eileen Sullivan, “Trump, Defending Call With Putin, Attacks ʻCrazedʼ Media and His Predecessors,” The New York Times, March 21, 2018.

[10] Julie Hirschfeld Davis, “ʻTime to Move Forwardʼ on Russia, Trump Says, as Criticism Intensifies,” The New York Times, July 9, 2017.

[11] Alison Smale, “German Stance on Russia Complicates Long-Cultivated Tie as G-7 Meets,” The New York Times, June 5, 2015.

[12] Michael D. Shear, “Trump Attends G-7 with Defiance, Proposing to Readmit Russia,” New York Times, June 8, 2018.

[13] Sewell Chan, “Donald Trumpʼs Remarks Rattle NATO Allies and Stoke Debate on Cost Sharing,” The New York Times, July 21, 2016; Julian E Barnes and Helene Cooper, “Trump Discussed Pulling U.S. From NATO, Aides Say Amid New Concerns Over Russia,” The New York Times, January 14, 2019.

[14] Barnes and Cooper, “Trump Discussed Pulling U.S. From NATO, Aides Say Amid New Concerns Over Russia.”

[15] Michael Crowley, “Allies and Former U.S. Officials Fear Trump Could Seek NATO Exit in a Second Term,” The New York Times, September 3, 2020.

[16] Steven Erlanger, “U.S. Revives Concerns About European Defense Plans, Rattling NATO Allies,” The New York Times, February 18, 2018.

[17] Thomas Gibbons-Neff, “U.S. Will Cut 12,000 Forces in Germany,” The New York Times, July 29, 2020, 000.

[18] Gebauer, Hoffmann, and Pfister, “Rics Rache.”

[19] Merkel said as much during the 2019 Munich security conference. Complete speech in German, see: See also Erlanger and Bennhold, “Rift Between Trump and Europe Is Now Open and Angry”; “With INF Treaty at Risk, Germans Fear New Arms Race | DW | 01.02.2019,” Deutsche Welle, January 2, 2019,


[21] David E Sanger and William J Broad, “U.S. to Tell Russia It Is Leaving Landmark I.N.F. Treaty,” The New York Times, October 19, 2018.

[22] Peter Baker, “Obama Said to Resist Growing Pressure From All Sides to Arm Ukraine,” The New York Times, March 10, 2015.

[23] Melissa Eddy and Alison Smale, “Merkel Sticks to Tough Line on Russia Sanctions,” The New York Times, January 8, 2015.

[24] Baker, “Combative Trump Pulls His Punches for One Man: Putin”; Katie Rogers and Peter Baker, “Scores of Russians Expelled by U.S. and Its Allies Over U.K. Poisoning,” The New York Times, March 26, 2018; Crowley and Haberman, “As Others Condemn Putin Criticʼs Poisoning, Trump Just Wants to ʻGet Alongʼ.”

[25] Matt Flegenheimer, “With New Sanctions, Senate Forces Trumpʼs Hand on Russia,” The New York Times, July 27, 2017.

[26] Flegenheimer; Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Matt Flegenheimer, “Congress Wants to Punish Russia, but Canʼt Dole Out the Punishment,” The New York Times, July 12, 2017.

[27] Erlanger, “A Worried Europe Finds Scant Reassurance on Trumpʼs Plans.”

[28] Melissa Eddy and Jack Ewing, “U.S. and Germany Defuse an Energy Dispute, Easing Tensions,” The New York Times, February 12, 2019. On gas and the actual extent of Russia’s leverage over Germany, see Jonas J. Driedger, “How Much Leverage Does Russia Really Have over Germany?,” Text, The National Interest, July 25, 2018,

[29] Steven Erlanger and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, “Trump vs. Merkel: Blistering Salvo Meets Quiet Rejoinder,” The New York Times, July 11, 2018.

[30] Baker, “Combative Trump Pulls His Punches for One Man: Putin.”

[31] Stanley Reed and Lara Jakes, “A Russian Gas Pipeline Increases Tension Between the U.S. and Europe,” The New York Times, July 24, 2020.

[32] Reed and Jakes.

[33] Alison Smale, “German Chancellor Rules Out Weapons Aid to Ukraine,” The New York Times, February 2, 2015.

[34] Baker, “Obama Said to Resist Growing Pressure From All Sides to Arm Ukraine.”

[35] Baker.

[36] Amy Mackinnon, “Trump Resisted Sale of Javelins to Ukraine,” Foreign Policy (blog), November 15, 2019,

[37] Linda Qiu, “Trumpʼs Misleading Defense for Withholding Assistance to Ukraine (Updated Sept. 26, 2019),” The New York Times, September 24, 2019, 2.

[38] “Germany Quiet on Trump, Ukraine Badmouthing during Call,” AP NEWS, September 26, 2019, sec. Ukraine,

[39] “2019/20. The Berlin Pulse. German Foreign Policy in Perspective” (Körber-Stiftung, November 2019),

[40] Barnes and Cooper, “Trump Discussed Pulling U.S. From NATO, Aides Say Amid New Concerns Over Russia.” See also

[41] “Nearly Two-Thirds of House Republicans Join Baseless Effort to Overturn Election,” The Guardian, December 11, 2020, sec. US news,

[42] Jeff Rathke has termed this a trifurcation of U.S. policy, relating to the presidency, congress, and the ministries.

[43] Barnes and Cooper, “Trump Discussed Pulling U.S. From NATO, Aides Say Amid New Concerns Over Russia.”

[44] Elizabeth Williamson and Thomas Kaplan, “As President Trump Bashes NATO, Republicans Are Largely Silent,” The New York Times, July 11, 2018.

[45] Gebauer, Hoffmann, and Pfister, “Rics Rache.”

[46] Katrin Bennhold, “German Defense Spending Is Falling Even Shorter. The U.S. Isnʼt Happy.,” The New York Times, March 19, 2019.

[47] See also Mattox in Elizabeth Caruth et al., “Enduring Partnership. Recommendations to the Next U.S. Administration for the German-American Relationship,” AGI (blog), accessed September 29, 2020, /publication/enduring-partnership/.

[48] “2019/20 Berlin Pulse,” 33–40.

[49] Steven Erlanger and Neil MacFarquhar, “Putin Sees an Opening in Europeʼs Fury With Trump,” The New York Times, June 5, 2018.

[50] See also Szabo in Caruth et al., “Enduring Partnership. Recommendations to the Next U.S. Administration for the German-American Relationship.”

[51] “2019/20 Berlin Pulse,” 33–40.

[52] Stephen F. Szabo, “Germany’s Aussenpolik after the Election,” in Twilight of the Merkel Era : Power and Politics in Germany after the 2017 Bundestag Election, ed. Eric Langenbacher (Berghahn, 2019).

[53] Peter S. Rashish, “How ‘Geopolitical’ Can the New European Commission Become?,” AGI (blog), accessed December 2, 2020, /2019/12/how-geopolitical-can-the-new-european-commission-become/.

The views expressed are those of the author(s) alone. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the American-German Institute.