President Trump is taking flak from all sides for his weak statements at the Helsinki summit about Russian meddling, as well as his recent comments about NATO.
But amid the memorable missteps, there’s one important thing that Trump nailed. And it shouldn’t get lost in the aftermath of the summit.
Trump publicly criticized the proposed 800-mile gas pipeline that would increase the supply of Russian gas to Europe. Called Nord Stream 2, the pipeline would bypass existing pipeline in Ukraine that generates significant revenue for our Eastern European ally and perennial Russian foe.
“Germany, as far as I’m concerned, is captive to Russia because it’s getting so much of its energy from Russia,” Trump said on camera. Russia, it should be noted, has been known to cut off access to natural gas during winter months as a bullying tactic. Whatever his reasons for fixating on the Nord Stream 2 issue, Trump is right that a new pipeline that runs directly from Russia to Germany will greatly increase Putin’s leverage over Germany and most of Europe.
Europe’s own gas resources are predicted to disappear over the next 2 decades. At the same time, the U.S. has become a global leader in energy production and is positioned to boost exports of gas to places like Western Europe—no doubt a reason for Russia’s efforts to stifle U.S. energy growth through propaganda and more.
While Trump sees Europe as a potential market for U.S. supplied energy via LNG exports, he and the West will face a daunting adversary, as Russia’s economy is hugely dependent on being able to monetize its massive gas reserves. And we all know Putin will stop at nothing to win.