Thursday, 26 July 2018

Trump’s EU Gas Deal Could Hurt Putin; Media Ignore It

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President Trump’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) deal with Europe could end up being a far bigger slam to Russia’s economy and to Russia’s geopolitical goals than anything done by President Obama or his predecessors to penalize Putin. It is a major swipe at the Kremlin’s growing stranglehold on Europe’s — and especially Germany’s — energy supplies. And it has the added bonus of being, potentially, an enormous economic boost for the United States for decades to come. But he is getting no credit for any of this in the “mainstream” Fake News media. The Deep State globalists and their anti-Trump media shills are still frothing over President Donald Trump’s meeting with Putin. Recall how Ex-CIA chief John Brennan, who is given to over-the-top rants against Trump, charged that Trump committed treason by meeting with Putin. Brennan, who is now a regular “expert” bloviator at NBC/MSNBC also declared that Trump “is wholly in the pocket of Putin.”

As we noted on July 19, Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) senior fellow Max Boot, in a column for the Washington Post, relayed Brennan’s treason charge, while ex-CIA/FBI minion Philip Mudd blasted Trump on CNN and virtually called for a coup, suggesting it is time for the Deep State “shadow government” to take Trump out and take over as the official government. Similar fulminations continue.

However, President Trump has fought back, claiming, “There has never been a president as tough on Russia as I have been.” At a White House Cabinet meeting the president said, “I think President Putin knows that better than anyone, certainly a lot better than the media. He understands it, and he’s not happy about it and he shouldn’t be happy about it.”

If Trump’s LNG deal takes hold, it could indeed deliver a significant blow both to Russia’s economy — which is dependent on sales of gas and oil — and to Russia’s longstanding (and largely successful) game plan to make Europe totally dependent on Russia for energy. A key plank in the Kremlin’s strategy for making Europe wholly susceptible to energy blackmail is the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, which President Trump put in the crosshairs during his recent European trip and in his White House meeting with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker yesterday. The nearly 800-mile pipeline under the Baltic Sea from Russia’s St. Petersburg region to Germany’s northeast coast was launched by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (Putin’s sidekick) in 2011. Merkel and Medvedev turned a wheel to start the flow of gas from Russia to western Europe, declaring this was the start of a new “sustainable partnership.”

“We are going to put into operation the first stage of a new partnership between Russia and the European Union,” Medvedev said, while Merkel declared the pipeline presaged “safe, sustainable partnership with Russia in the future.” “The purchasing countries and Russia are profiting in equal measure,” she insisted.

Merkel’s predecessor, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, launched the original Nord Stream pipeline with then-President Vladimir Putin in 2005. Schröder, a longtime pal of Putin and a dedicated one-worlder, has parlayed that pipeline deal into a treason-for-profit scheme that has brought him immense personal benefits. As we reported in 2013, while most of the establishment media were still gaga over Putin,

Schröder, by the way, has turned his German and EU politicking into a profitable second career, as chairman of the board of Nord Stream AG, the giant Russian-EU gas pipeline project he had championed while chancellor — along with Vladimir Putin. Putin’s energy behemoth, Gazprom, owns 51 percent of Nord Stream and Gazprom Chairman Alexei Miller — along with fellow Putin oligarchs Alexander Medvedev and Vlada Russakova — sits on the board. Nord Stream’s managing director is Matthias Warnig, for decades a member of the Stasi, the former Communist East Germany’s secret police. Warnig and Putin worked together, while Putin was a KGB agent in Germany. With help from Putin’s Kremlin, Warnig jumped from Stasi agent to chairman of the board of the Russian branch of Dresdner Bank, one of Germany’s largest banks.

In 1999, while he was chancellor, Schröder announced his support for doing away with Germany’s (and every other country’s) national sovereignty. “The time for individual nations having its own tax, employment and social policies if definitely over,” he proclaimed. “We must finally bury the erroneous ideas of nations having sovereignty over foreign and defence policies. National sovereignty will soon prove itself to be a product of the imagination.”

Schröder’s initiation of the Nord Stream project was one of many actions aimed at concretely implementing this program to undermine Germany’s sovereignty and make it a vassal of Russia. Angela Merkel, a “former” communist from East Germany, has continued and expanded his destructive policies, not only by increasing Germany’s energy dependence on Russia, but by striving in every way to destroy Germany’s sovereignty by making it ever more subject to the European Union and the United Nations.

Merkel told reporters in 2012: “My vision is one of political union…. We need to become incrementally closer and closer, in all policy areas…. Over a long process, we will transfer more powers to the [European] Commission, which will then handle what falls within the European remit like a government of Europe.”

During his July NATO meeting in Brussels, Trump told NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that Germany, the alliance's largest and wealthiest European member, is “totally controlled” by and “captive to” Russia. “Germany, as far as I’m concerned, is captive to Russia because it’s getting so much of its energy from Russia,” Trump said. “We have to talk about the billions and billions of dollars that’s being paid to the country we’re supposed to be protecting you against,” he continued. “We’re supposed to protect you against Russia but [Germany is] paying billions of dollars to Russia, and I think that's very inappropriate.” Trump told Stoltenberg that under Merkel, Germany “got rid of their coal plants, got rid of their nuclear, they're getting so much of the oil and gas from Russia. I think it's something NATO has to look at.”

In a July 22 Wall Street Journal op-ed entitled “Trump is right on Nord Stream,” David B. Rivkin, Jr. and Miomir Zuzul note that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline expansion “would enhance Russia’s blackmail capability by enabling Moscow to cut off gas supplies to Eastern Europe without subjecting Western Europe to the same treatment. Not surprisingly, Eastern European states have taken the lead in trying to develop alternatives.”

Riven and Zuzul continue:

In 2016 Croatia and Poland led the formation of the Three Seas Initiative, or 3SI, which united 12 states from the Baltics to the Balkans. At a 3SI summit in Warsaw in June 2017, Mr. Trump pledged that the U.S. would bolster exports of liquefied natural gas to Europe so the Continent “can never be held hostage to a single supplier.” That statement was anchored in the administration’s broader strategy of transforming the U.S. into a pre-eminent low-cost global energy supplier.

Russia’s gas stranglehold is a source of vulnerability as well as power. Europe accounts for more than 80% of Gazprom’s exports. Energy accounts for almost half of Russia’s exports and 40% of its national budget. The implementation of a 3SI energy plan would drain Russia’s pocketbook and frustrate its geopolitical ambitions.

Poland is already moving forward with its program for building LNG infrastructure and is looking to the United States as a supplier that can give it the diversification it needs to leverage against economic and political threats from Moscow. Other Three Seas Initiative countries are likely to follow suit, even if Germany and the EU continue to push policies that would make Europe more dependent upon Russia. Trump’s LNG deals may develop into U.S. natural gas sales worth many billions of dollars, as well as bolstering Europe’s energy security. As usual, however, he has received only brickbats and virtually zero acknowledgement of the potential benefits — to Germany, Poland, the EU, and the world — of a Europe weened from its dependence on Russia for its energy lifeblood.

Contrast that with the media reception Angela Merkel received in May when she went to meet with Putin at his Sochi residence on the Black Sea. Russia’s TASS “news” agency, a holdover from the Soviet era, ran with this headline: “Presenting flowers, Putin greets Merkel in Sochi.” According to the accompanying story, “Putin met Merkel at the entrance to the residence and presented her with a bouquet of cream-colored roses, freesias and other flowers in pastel colors.” The reports and op-eds in the Western press likewise showered Merkel with affectionate bouquets.

Image: Aquir via iStock / Getty Images Plus

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