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
PodcastReflecting on Five Years in the U.S., with Finnish Amb. Kirsti Kauppi
Kirsti Kauppi joins Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend to discuss her time as Finland’s Ambassador to the United States, Finland’s response to COVID-19, and more. Amb. Kau...
By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend & Amb. Kirsti Kauppi
PodcastPutin’s 20 Years in Power, with Mike Carpenter
Mike Carpenter joins Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend to discuss lessons learned from Vladimir Putin’s time in office, how Putin views the United States, and more. Dr. C...
By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend & Mike Carpenter
CommentaryA Strongman Brand Others Can Emulate
For the past 20 years, Putin has been driven principally by his desire to maintain power. To this end, he has weakened the state, eliminated competition, and personalized Russ...
By Andrea Kendall-Taylor
There is growing evidence that Beijing and Moscow are learning from each other and enhancing their coordination, leading to a growing convergence in their digital influence ef...
By Daniel Kliman, Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Kristine Lee, Joshua Fitt & Carisa Nietsche