Russia uses gas supplies to control Germany, said US President Donald Trump on Wednesday. Trump says it’s unacceptable that Berlin is paying billions of dollars to Moscow instead of its NATO dues, which protect it from Russia.
Speaking to journalists before a meeting with the NATO secretary general in Brussels, Trump criticized bloc members that approved the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Europe. The president criticized Germany in particular, calling it a hostage of Russia.
Germany has resisted US pressure to block Nord Stream 2, which is due to be completed in 2019. The project is an expansion of the existing Nord Stream natural gas pipeline which opened in 2011. The pipeline has been a source of contention for over a year, pitting the US and a small number of Eastern European countries, including Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania and others, on one side, against Russia and major EU members, led by Germany, on the other.
The expanded pipeline aims to ensure a reliable supply of Russian gas to central and western Europe. It includes a 759 mile (1,222km) natural gas pipeline running on the bed of the Baltic Sea from Russian gas fields to Germany. It will double the existing Nord Stream pipeline’s current annual capacity of 55 billion cubic meters and is expected to become operational by the end of next year.
The EU has suffered considerable economic losses due to the US-led push to block trade with Russia since 2014. By contrast, the US has been largely unaffected, and has even profited somewhat from the sale of pricey liquefied natural gas (LNG) that Washington has promoted as the alternative to cheaper Russian fuel.
Last month, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen said that while US politicians are accusing Europe of being dependent on Russian gas, Washington was force-feeding Europe its liquefied natural gas, which is three times more expensive than natural gas from Russia.