French President Emmanuel Macron has warned fellow European countries that NATO is dying because of Washington's lack of predictability under President Donald Trump, a view quickly rejected by Germany but hailed by Russia.
Macron voiced doubt about Article 5 of NATO's Charter, which states that an attack on one ally is an attack on all -- a clause that has been the cornerstone of the transatlantic alliance since its foundation in 1949.
"What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO," Macron told The Economist on November 7.
Asked whether he still believed in Article 5, Macron answered, "I don't know," although he said the United States would remain an ally.
Macron also said Washington was showing signs of "turning its back on us," as demonstrated by Trump's sudden decision last month to pull troops out of northeastern Syria without consulting allies.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Macron was overreacting.
"The French president has found rather drastic words to express his views. This is not how I see the state of cooperation at NATO," Merkel told a news conference in Berlin alongside alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg.
Stoltenberg warned that a weakened transatlantic alliance could "divide Europe," while U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in Germany ahead of the 30th anniversary on November 9 of the fall of the Berlin Wall, insisted NATO was "important, critical."
Pompeo said the alliance was perhaps one of the most important "in all recorded history."
However, Macron's assessment was hailed in Moscow, where Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called it "golden words...a precise definition of the current state of NATO."
The alliance was shaken by Trump's portrayal of it as being in crisis at the latest NATO summit in Brussels in July, and its image of unity took another hit when Turkey defied scathing criticism from its allies to launch a military incursion into Syria last month.