Russia welcomes prospect of US troop pullback from Germany

FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 17, 2020 file photo, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova gestures as she attends Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's annual roundup news conference summing up his ministry's work in 2019, in Moscow, Russia. Russia's Foreign Ministry has accused the Financial Times and the New York Times of spreading "disinformation" after the two newspapers alleged that Russia's coronavirus death toll could much higher than officials report. The Ministrys spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Wednesday May 13, 2020, that letters demanding a retraction would be passed on to editors in chief of the newspapers on Thursday. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File) (Alexander Zemlianichenko, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

MOSCOW – Russia's Foreign Ministry on Thursday welcomed President Donald Trump’s reported plan to withdraw more than a quarter of U.S. troops from Germany, saying it would help bolster security in Europe.

Trump has reportedly signed off on a plan to cut the number of troops stationed in Germany from 34,500 to no more than 25,000.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that “we would welcome any steps by Washington to scale down its military presence in Europe.”

“Such steps would undoubtedly help reduce confrontational potential and ease military and political tensions in the Euro-Atlantic region,” Zakharova said at a briefing, adding that the large U.S. military presence in Germany is a “vestige of the Cold War.”

Zakharova challenged the U.S. to also take its tactical nuclear weapons home from Germany.

German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told reporters earlier this week that Berlin hadn’t yet been informed of any U.S. troops pullout. She warned that if the U.S. goes ahead the move would do more harm to NATO as a whole than to Germany’s own defense.

Relations between Russia and the West are at post-Cold War lows following the 2014 Russian annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, Moscow’s alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and other issues.

Moscow has described the deployment of NATO forces near Russian borders as a top security threat.

Zakharova strongly warned Washington against redeploying some of the troops from Germany to Poland, saying it would further exacerbate tensions and undermine prospects of dialogue between Russia and NATO.