The United States, the top oil and gas seller, will compete with Russia’s gas pipeline to Germany, according to President Donald Trump, who addressed his previously expressed concern about the Nord Stream II pipeline during Monday’s joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
A reporter asked President Trump during the press conference held in Helsinki, Finland, to convey what he discussed with President Putin about the pipeline during the meetings they had concluded just prior to the press conference.
“We will be competing, when you talk about the pipeline,” said Trump, who added, “I’m not sure necessarily that it’s in the best interest of Germany or not, but that was a decision that they made.”
Trump made strong statements to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at a first meeting of the NATO summit last week during breakfast. He raised the conflict between NATO allies spending money to defend against Russia while Germany has paid Russia great sums for the Nord Stream II gas pipeline and now partially relies on Russia as an energy source.
“It is very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia, where we’re supposed to be guarding against Russia, and Germany goes and pays out billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia,” Trump said to Stoltenberg at the breakfast meeting.
Trump also met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during the NATO summit, confirming that the two spoke about his concerns about the pipeline. In joint comments with Merkel after their meeting, they both spoke of a good relationship between the two nations.
During Monday’s joint Helsinki press conference with Putin, Trump recalled his NATO meeting with Merkel: “I discussed with Angela Merkel in pretty strong tones.”
Trump also eluded Monday to a “very close source” between Germany and Russia related to the pipeline. At the NATO breakfast with Stoltenberg, Trump pointed to former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and his position on the board for the Nord Stream II energy company, saying, “The former Chancellor of Germany is the head of the pipeline company that’s supplying the gas. … Germany is totally controlled by Russia. They will be getting 60-70 percent of their energy and a new pipeline. … I think it’s not [appropriate], and it’s a very bad thing for NATO.”
President Trump then added at Monday’s joint press conference that the U.S. has “lots of sources now, and the United States is much different now than a number of years ago when we weren’t able to extract what we can extract today.”
“As you know, the United States is now, or soon will be–but I think it actually is right now–the largest in the oil and gas world,” Trump told the press as he stood feet from Putin. “So we’re gonna be selling LNG, and we’ll have to be competing with the pipeline. And I think we’ll compete successfully, although there is a little advantage locationally.”
Putin then addressed the issue, saying “Mr. President voiced his concerns about the possibility of disappearance of transit through Ukraine, and I reassured Mr. President that Russia stands ready to maintain this transit.” He asserted that neither the U.S. nor Russia was interested in the “plummeting of the other prices,” saying that consumers, including those in the U.S., will suffer if they do, as will shale gas producers. Regarding the pipeline, Putin pushed the idea of extending the contract that is set to expire next year, and “in case of the dispute between the economic entities, dispute will be settled in the Stockholm arbitration court.”