Former President Donald Trump’s push to get Europe to purchase more liquefied natural gas from the United States is paying off now as western nations seek to oppose Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
In July 2018, Trump told NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during a meeting in Brussels that Germany is “totally controlled” by Russia through its oil and gas deals.
“We’re supposed to protect you against Russia, but they’re paying billions of dollars to Russia?” Trump asked. “I think that’s very inappropriate.”
“And the former Chancellor of Germany [Gerhard Schroeder] is the head of the pipeline company that is supplying the gas. Ultimately, Germany will have almost 70 percent of their country controlled by Russia with natural gas. So you tell me, is that appropriate? I’ve been complaining about this from the time I got in.”
Trump also hit NATO countries, like Germany, which were not fulfilling their commitment to spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on national defense.
Trump and NATO’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg discussion of 2018 has a lot for the world to learn about NATO role…1/2 pic.twitter.com/nJZXozc28u
— UN (@UshaNirmala) February 24, 2022
Stoltenberg was able to report that NATO nations had been heeding Trump’s demands to spend more and said pledges had been made to spend over $250 billion through 2024.
While Germany and other NATO nations had been increasing their defense spending after Trump took office, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced Sunday that in response to the Ukraine conflict his country will now greatly boost the amount to reach the 2 percent level, from 1.53 percent in 2021.
By way of comparison, the U.S. spent 3.7 percent in 2020.
Not only did the Europeans heed Trump’s call to increase their defense spending, they have also started buying significantly more natural gas from the U.S.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced a massive boost in defense spending on Sunday that he says will bring the nation’s investments above the key 2% commitment of GDP, as the Ukraine conflict forces Berlin to rethink its foreign policy. pic.twitter.com/9Jg8lQxKpD
— DW Politics (@dw_politics) February 27, 2022
This was an initiative the 45th president took up with then-European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, also in July 2018.
“We agreed today to strengthen our strategic cooperation with respect to energy. The European Union wants to import more liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States to diversify its energy supply,” the two said in a joint statement following their meeting.
By March 2019, the EU reported that imports of American LNG were up 181 percent, with the U.S. share of the market hitting 12 percent, compared to 2.3 percent before the agreement.
It’s pretty amazing that in the blink of an eye the US became one of the top three LNG exporters to Europe. Credit for this goes to Texas’ gas reserves and LNG processing facilities along the Gulf Coast. #txenergyhttps://t.co/PpKQbl6Cd0 pic.twitter.com/e1M88qYrtI
— Jeremy B. Mazur (@jeremybmazur) February 28, 2022
In early 2021, the American share of the market reached 24 percent to Russia’s 21 percent.
Trump was prescient, once again.
He argued correctly that Europe was vulnerable to Russian blackmail by being so dependent on Moscow for natural gas, and thankfully, the western nations began to shift to other sources — including the U.S.
European leaders should thank God that Trump was in office when he was and helped them see the light.