Natural Gas

How a Russian Gas Pipeline Is Driving a Wedge Between the U.S. and Its Allies

from The Wall Street Journal,

The Nord Stream 2 gas-transport project is a bone of contention with Washington, which fears it will make Germany too reliant on Moscow

Angela Merkel and her advisers, before a visit to the White House last spring, agreed on a priority: Avoid talk of Nord Stream 2. The German-Russian pipeline project had been a bone of contention between Berlin and Washington, which fears it will make Europe’s largest economy excessively reliant on Russian energy. When the German chancellor took her seat at the Oval Office table, though, President Trump left her nowhere to hide. “Angela,” he said, according to people in the room, “you got to stop buying gas from Putin.” A year later, work continues on the gas link under the Baltic Sea financed by several Western firms and PAO Gazprom , the Russian state-controlled energy company. The dispute is coming to a head, in a graphic example of how Russia’s estrangement from the West, far from bringing its members closer, is driving a wedge between the closest of allies. The Trump administration contends the pipeline would prop up Moscow, still under Western sanctions for its 2014 Ukraine invasion. “Allowing Nord Stream 2 to be built now will simply increase European dependency on Russia,” said Richard A. Grenell, U.S. ambassador to Germany and a Trump confidant. Instead of creating closer ties with Russia, Mr. Trump told Ms. Merkel at the meeting that Germany should buy American gas. Berlin says the pipeline would improve the continent’s energy security. Gazprom already operates gas links to Europe that traverse Ukraine. “A Russian gas molecule remains a Russian gas molecule,” Ms. Merkel said last month at a Munich conference attended by Vice President Mike Pence, “irrespective whether it comes from Ukraine or from underneath the Baltic Sea.”

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