President Donald Trump may not have an agenda to guide his huddle with Russian President Putin on the margins of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, but the G20 does. Unfortunately, the G20 agenda likely does not include Nord Stream 2, the planned second Russian natural gas pipeline to Europe. This makes it all the more crucial that Trump raise Nord Stream 2 directly with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Far from being just a simple “economic project” between Russia and the European Union as Merkel has claimed, Nord Stream 2 will strengthen Russia’s hand in using energy to coerce European allies and partners. Germany has the most to gain from this second pipeline and Merkel has the influence, but not the motivation, to stop the Russian project. If Nord Stream 2 is allowed to proceed, it will offer an irrevocable advantage to a cunning adversary and undermine EU security and sovereignty, with adverse consequences not just for Europe but for the United States. If Trump really means “America first,” he needs to raise the pipeline issue with Merkel.
Odds are that Nord Stream 2 does not top the agenda for many Washington swamp dwellers either, but it should. Russia has shown for years that the weapons in its arsenal go beyond its military. Putin has not hesitated to weaponize access to Russian energy to coerce his neighbors, especially Ukraine. With most of Europe still dependent on Russia for a portion of its energy needs, Putin’s energy weapon is potent. The easy availability of cheap Russian gas is seductive for European nations, who would rather spend their money on things other than alternative fuels. At the moment, alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, or nuclear don’t come close in cost and ease of access to Russian gas, leading to Europe’s strong dependence on Russian energy. Even if Russia is successful in feeding Europe’s dependence through a second pipeline, there is no guarantee that European expectations of lower Russian energy prices will be more than a mirage.
Read the full article at Foreign Policy.
More from CNAS
PodcastThe Latest Phase of the War in Ukraine, with Mike Kofman and Jeff Edmonds
Has the war in Ukraine reached a critical turning point? Mike Kofman and Jeff Edmonds join Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend to discuss the evolution of the military situ...
By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend, Michael Kofman & Jeffrey Edmonds
CommentaryStrange Debacle: Misadventures In Assessing Russian Military Power
Russia’s botched invasion of Ukraine has befuddled most defense analysts and Russia experts....
By Chris Dougherty
CommentarySharper: The Authoritarianism Challenge
Autocratic leadership is on the rise globally. Even in democratic nations, leaders are eroding checks on their power and weakening institutions. The use of illiberal technolog...
By Anna Pederson
CommentaryCan Ukraine’s Military Keep Winning?
Ukraine’s military has undergone a radical transformation over the past eight years, thanks to intensive reorganization and reform efforts and billions of dollars in Western s...
By Margarita "Rita" Konaev & Polina Beliakova