U.S. President Donald Trump urged the leaders of central and eastern European nations Thursday to enter into agreements to purchase U.S. energy exports, instead of relying heavily on imports from Russia.
“America stands ready to help Poland and other European nations diversify their energy supplies, so that you can never be held hostage to a single supplier,” Trump said in Warsaw, Poland, where he attended a meeting of 12 European nations.
Trump did not mention Russia, but many observers believed his remarks were meant to get the leaders to view the U.S. as a viable alternate source of energy.
In 2008, Russia cut supplies of natural gas to Europe during a dispute with Ukraine. Russia’s subsequent military intervention in Ukraine and its annexation of Crimea raised concerns about Europe’s over-reliance on Russian gas.
The meeting of the European nations, The Three Seas Summit, was attended by nations located around the Adriatic, Baltic and Black Seas. The nations are involved in an ongoing initiative to strengthen relations through energy, trade and infrastructure deals.
One of the goals of the Three Seas nations is to develop energy infrastructure that aligns with recent European Union efforts to more effectively merge gas pipelines to guard against supply disruptions, particularly from Russia.
The Trump administration hopes to export more liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the region. The U.S. has large inventories of low-priced natural gas and is constructing new terminals for shipping the gas overseas.
Trump’s comments were made one day before he is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.
FBI and several congressional probes are under way into whether Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russia when it interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.
Trump has dismissed or downplayed findings by the U.S. intelligence community that Russia meddled in the election with the intent of helping Trump win the presidency.