Trump team is adopting a pipeline plan to wean Europe off Russian fuel

President Donald Trump’s top national security aides believe the roadmap to Middle East peace has been traced on a physical map they have hanging in the White House marked by power plants, gas terminals, and ambitious pipeline projects.

According to three senior administration officials, that map – declassified and obtained by McClatchy – has motivated members of the National Security Council to prioritize the formation of a gas forum in the Eastern Mediterranean that would simultaneously boost and entangle the economies of several countries that have been at odds for decades.

Fascination with regional energy resources has formed the basis of an organizing principle for policymaking among key members of Trump’s inner circle, who similarly view oil and gas needs as critical to their strategies toward Russia and the European Union, according to White House and Defense Department sources.

It is a rare instance of continuity between the Trump and Obama administrations. The map was first created by State Department cartographers and energy diplomats working at the direction of former Vice President Joe Biden, according to its architect, Amos Hochstein, former special envoy and coordinator for international energy affairs.

“It took us a long time to create,” Hochstein told McClatchy. “There’s complete continuity, and it is thanks to the vision and leadership of Vice President Biden.”

CROSS-GOVERNMENT COOPERATION
The Trump administration is supporting two bipartisan congressional efforts that track with its approach: One bill that “promotes security and energy partnerships in the Eastern Mediterranean,” introduced on a bipartisan basis in both houses in May, and another threatening to sanction European firms supporting the construction of Nord Stream 2 pipelines into Germany, predominantly funded by Russia’s state-owned Gazprom.

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry briefed President Donald Trump two weeks ago in the Oval Office on the Russian pipeline effort, which circumvents Ukraine by running through the maritime territory of Baltic states that are entirely reliant on Russian fuel.

The administration has grown increasingly vocal in its opposition to the Nord Stream 2 project.

“If Germany persists in building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, as President Trump said, it could turn Germany’s economy into literally a captive of Russia,” Vice President Mike Pence said in April at a NATO anniversary event in Washington.

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