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Trump Has 'Done Damage That the Soviets Would Have Dreamt Of,' Former German Foreign Minister Says

Former German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and other European officials have lashed out at President Donald Trump and his divisive leadership on the international stage, alleging he has threatened an alliance that took many decades to build.

“He has done damage that the Soviets would have dreamt of,” Gabriel told The Washington Post in a story published on Monday. “We can’t live with Trump,” he warned, before adding: “And we can’t live without the United States.”

Gabriel said that in the beginning, European leaders believed Trump’s unorthodox and aggressive style was just a campaign strategy that would change once he entered the White House. “But he changed the position of the presidency,” Gabriel, who also served as the vice chancellor of Germany from 2013 until last year, told The Post. “I find it shocking that, in such a short time, he has managed to rip apart a relationship that has taken decades to build.”

GettyImages-810203320 President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron speak together when they arrive for the first working session of the G20 Summit on July 7, 2017, in Hamburg, Germany. Former German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and other European officials have lashed out at President Donald Trump and his divisive leadership on the international stage, alleging he has threatened an alliance that took many decades to build. Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images

An anonymous French official shared similar sentiments with the newspaper, pointing out that Trump seems uninterested in maintaining a close relationship with Europe.

“On a number of issues, we have tried to convince him that Europe is a key partner of the United States,” the official explained. “He will say, ‘I don’t need you,’ and ‘Europe is worse than China.’”

European leaders have stood starkly at odds with the Trump administration on numerous international issues, including the Paris Climate Accord, the Iran nuclear deal (known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), trade agreements, the importance of NATO and the withdrawal of troops from Syria. Trump said publicly last year that he viewed the European Union as a “foe," criticizing the longtime U.S. ally before also mentioning Russia and China.

The opposition from the Trump White House has led German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron to make extraordinary statements, raising concerns about the U.S. Last May, Merkel suggested that Washington was no longer a reliable partner. Then in November, Macron called for the creation of a unified European Army, pointing to threats from China and Russia, as well as from the U.S.

“When I see President Trump announcing that he's quitting a major disarmament treaty which was formed after the 1980s Euro-missile crisis that hit Europe, who is the main victim?” the French president asked at the time. “Europe and its security,” he said, answering his own question.

On Friday, the Trump administration officially announced its plan to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which was signed in 1987 by former President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev. In response, the EU has called on Russia and the U.S. to push a dialogue forward to preserve the agreement.

A report by The New York Times from last month also highlighted concern from senior Trump administration officials over the president’s insistence that the U.S. could simply withdraw from NATO. The White House responded by pointing to comments in which the president called the alliance “very strong.”

GettyImages-971491304 In this photo provided by the German Government Press Office (BPA), German Chancellor Angela Merkel deliberates with President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G7 Summit on June 9, 2018 in Charlevoix, Canada Jesco Denzel /Bundesregierung via Getty Images

According to The Post, Germany’s Merkel at first tried to work with Trump and highlight the mutual benefits of a strong relationship between Europe and the U.S. However, she has since reportedly given up and turned to managing the fallout from Trump’s oppositional stance.

“She was trying to teach him in the beginning to explain how things relate to each other and what the relevance was,” Almut Möller, who co-heads the Berlin office of the European Council on Foreign Relations, told the newspaper. “She wanted to engage with a rational partner on the other side.”

Initially, Merkel used charts and visuals in a bid to inform Trump about the complicated relationship and international ties. But the German leader soon realized that Trump wasn’t one to have his opinion swayed.

“Merkel has been increasingly passive on this,” Josef Janning, co-head of the European Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin, told The Post. “She has switched to damage control.”

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