The media’s attention is focused on what Russia did during the 2016 election, most recently hyperventilating over a press conference that featured President Donald Trump flattering the chief Russian thug, combined with mis-speaking about U.S. intelligence. The sad reality is that Trump is trying to buy time to counter Russia’s geopolitical kompromat (compromising material) on a major ally. The method is the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline that would allow Russia to send natural gas to Germany. The Germans import 80% of their natural gas, and 50% of it comes from Russia.
Natural gas exports are one of the few ways Russia earns hard currency. This gives America a little leverage — as American exports grow, Vladimir Putin finds himself not only getting a smaller amount of exports but the unit cost of the gas is lower. Nevertheless, Nord Stream 2 is just the latest in a long-running Russian — and Soviet — strategy in Europe.
By hooking NATO countries and Eastern Europe on natural gas imports, Moscow gains leverage over American allies. In essence, Russia is building the capability to crash the economies of Europe should it choose to do so, with the help of former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
You can bet that Poland and some other members of NATO who were once Soviet puppets are nervous about that. Add in Germany’s problems with military readiness and the general failure of most NATO countries to spend 2% of GDP on defense, and it’s leading to some understandable questions about whether Germany is able or willing do its part. If you want to be considered an ally, it’s best not to such questions reasonable.
It goes without saying that Russia has been no friend to the United States over the years. Its cheating on arms control makes remaining in New START a sucker’s bet. The Kremlin has engaged in some blatant aggression in Crimea and Ukraine. And that’s not to mention all of its election interference.
However, it should be noted that the same media so hyper-focused on purported collusion between Russia and President Trump seems to be missing in action when it comes to another form of Russian meddling — support for ecofascists opposed to fracking.
National Review, no shill for Trump, outlined how Russian money backed environmentalists who pushed bans on hydraulic fracturing (commonly called fracking) in multiple NATO countries long before Trump even announced his campaign. Russia has even funded anti-fracking campaigns here in the U.S. in an effort to undermine American energy independence and to keep America from helping allies.
It has been said that diplomacy is the art of saying “nice doggy” until you find a rock. In this case, the rocks needed to break Russia’s natural gas chokehold on NATO allies are expanding American natural gas exports to Europe in the short- to medium-term, and then overturning fracking bans in NATO allies (and preventing them here) for the alliance’s medium- to long-term energy security. For starters, securing those exports and boosting fracking may be a start to mitigating, if not eliminating, the geopolitical kompromat Russia currently has over Germany, and by extension, the rest of NATO.