Donald Trump is once again attacking North Atlantic Treaty Organisation...while at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit.
Trump's comments referred to Berlin's support for the construction of the $12 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline to bring gas across the Baltic Sea into the European continent. "That's not necessarily true for most of the European members of the alliance".
Trump and Merkel met later Wednesday on the sidelines of the summit and kept their remarks polite during a photo opportunity with the press.
But in Russian Federation, where the political system is obsessed with hierarchy, status and displays of raw power, Putin has "already got his victory", said Andrey Kortunov, head of RIAC, a foreign policy think-tank close to the Foreign Ministry.
That doesn't mean there haven't been ups and downs over the decades - seen dramatically after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the USA when more than 200,000 Germans took to the streets of Berlin to show their solidarity with the US, only to give way a year later to massive demonstrations against the American march toward the invasion of Iraq.
Stoltenberg acknowledged that Trump had expressed himself in "very direct language" but insisted that away from the fiery rhetoric the allies all agree on fundamental issues: the need to boost NATO's resilience, fight terror and share the cost of defence more equally.
Of course, it's impossible to say exactly what was going through the minds of Trump's aides. Despite German Chancellor Angela Merkel's tough talk over Russia's annexation of Crimea and sponsorship of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine, she has defended the $11 billion pipeline deal to supply her country's energy shortfall.
"There is no ledger that maintains accounts of what countries pay and owe", says former Obama administration National Security Council staffer Aaron O'Connell.
"I myself have also experienced a part of Germany being controlled by the Soviet Union", she said. The U.S.is spending many times more than any other country in order to protect them.
Trump is due to meet Putin on Monday in Helsinki.
In a bilateral breakfast meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in front of reporters, Trump immediately launched into a tirade about the pipeline.
'You tell me if that's appropriate because I think it's not.
By accusing a global rival of having unsavory ties with Russia-at the moment investigators are looking into the president's own unsavory ties with Russia-Trump is continuing his use of the so-called "boomerang insult", a strategy that seeks to deflects attacks against him on to his critics. "Will they reimburse the US?"
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.
Trump's decision to meet Putin was widely regarded as a blow to the prime minister's attempts to isolate Russian Federation following the Salisbury attack in March, even though he had strongly condemned the Kremlin's actions at the time.
Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch also took issue with Trump, saying "I don't agree with that. Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all", Trump said Tuesday before departing for Brussels.
Yet Trump did not seem to get that message.
"We are partners, we are good partners, and we will continue to cooperate in the future", she said.