Trudeau and Trump share concern about a proposed Russian pipeline

Canada, U.S. express concern at NATO over Russian pipeline into Germany

The Trudeau government and the Trump administration have found a rare patch of common ground at the NATO summit in Brussels — shared concern about a proposed Russian pipeline that would cross through the Baltic Sea into Germany.

Canada has “significant concerns” with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, which would bring gas from Russia to the Baltic coast of Germany, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Wednesday.

RELATED: Trudeau and Trump have informal meeting on trade at NATO summit

She said she has discussed the issue with Ukraine, which opposes the pipeline because of the leverage it would give Russia over European countries.

At the summit’s opening, U.S. President Donald Trump railed against what he characterized as a “massive gas deal” between Germany and Russia, calling it inappropriate. He said the deal makes Germany “captive” to and “totally controlled” by Russia, and he urged NATO leaders to take a closer look at it.

It is unusual for Trump to express concerns about Russian behaviour. His meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Finland next week is generating widespread concern.

Trump has dismissed the assessment of his own intelligence agencies that Russia tried to meddle in the 2016 presidential election that brought him to power. And he has affixed a “witch hunt” label to the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into potential co-ordination between Russia and Trump’s Republican presidential campaign.

His remarks Wednesday were a sharp departure from the previous day, when he suggested Putin would pose less of a problem for him during his current European travels than his miserly NATO allies or the European Union’s pending Brexit breakup with Britain.

Trump arrived in Brussels lashing out at Canada and other allies for not spending enough on defence. But he quickly honed on in Germany in a terse face-to-face exchange with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

“Germany is totally controlled by Russia, because they will be getting from 60 to 70 per cent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline,” Trump told Stoltenberg.

“And you tell me if that’s appropriate, because I think it’s not, and I think it’s a very bad thing for NATO and I don’t think it should have happened,” he added. “We’re supposed to be protecting you from Russia, but why are you paying billions of dollars to Russia for energy?”

Trump didn’t identify Nord Stream 2 by name.

But Freeland elaborated on Canada’s concerns with the project, saying she had discussed it as recently as last week at a conference in Copenhagen on economic reforms in Ukraine.

“When it comes to Nord Stream, Canada has significant concerns about that project,” she said. “Canada has been clear in our international conversations with many countries.”

Freeland said she had a “good conversation” with the Danish foreign minister because the pipeline “is an issue that touches very much on Denmark.”

Denmark, Finland and Sweden are on the long underwater pipeline route that would double the amount of Russian gas Germany receives.

Andriy Shevchenko, Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada, said he was “very pleased” with Freeland’s statement Wednesday. He said opposing the pipeline is not only in Canada’s national security interest but its economic interest as well, because even if it lacks the capacity to ship gas to Europe, it keeps future markets open.

RELATED: Trump sends letter to Trudeau calling for increase in NATO defence spending

Russia has a long history of cutting off access to energy as leverage over Europe and that won’t stop, he said.

“They will use that to weaken the European Union, to divide the European allies,” Shevchenko said in an interview. ”It’s not just about Ukraine.”

Several eastern European countries oppose the pipeline, saying it would give the Kremlin greater sway over the energy needs of the entire continent.

Freeland has been a vocal opponent of Russian meddling in the affairs of democratic countries. And she has been a steadfast defender of Ukraine, which saw its Crimean Peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014 and continues to contend with Russian-backed separatists in its eastern region.

“We discussed it with Ukraine,” Freeland said. “So, Canada is clear with our partners about the concerns that we have with Nord Stream.”

Freeland also went out of her way not to overstate the newfound simpatico with the Trump administration on this one issue, saying Canada has imposed sanctions on Russia “in close collaboration with our European and U.S. allies.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel — who grew up behind the Iron Curtain in communist East Germany — shot back at Trump.

“I’ve experienced myself a part of Germany controlled by the Soviet Union,” she said.

“I’m very happy today that we are united in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany, and can thus say that we can determine our own policies and make our own decisions — and that’s very good.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Williams Lake Mayor reflects on ups and downs of the 2017 wildfires

A look back at the interviews, the White Lake fire and moving forward

VIDEO: Return of Arts on the Fly resounding success

After a two-year absence, the popular two-day music in Horsefly, B.C. went off smoothly

Quesnel RCMP capture suspect after July 18 B&E, theft

Local business Bumper to Bumper was broken into in the early hours on Wednesday

Severe thunderstorm watch issued for Quesnel, Williams Lake

Environment Canada issues storm warning for large hail, strong wind and heavy rain in the Cariboo

Borkowskis: If the shoe fits

CASUAL COUNTRY 2018: Couple establsish largest independent shoe store in western Canada

BC Games: Dance, spoken-word highlights at Opening Ceremony in Cowichan

Hundreds of athletes and thousands of volunteers, coaches, parents and officials

B.C. city wants pot punted from farmland

Concerned about conversion from growing food to making marijuana

World’s translators push back on forcing Trump interpreter to testify

Democrats had asked translator to testify about Trump’s lengthy conversation with Putin in Helsinki

No decision on B.C. school stabbing suspect’s mental fitness for trial

The BC Review Board could not determine whether Gabriel Klein, 21, is fit to stand trial

Canadian government threatens to retaliate if Trump imposes auto tariffs

U.S president had suggested that auto imports pose a national security risk to the U.S.

Wildfire evacuation order forces bride to search for new wedding venue

Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards is under an order due to the Mount Eneas wildfire south of Peachland

Recent online kitten abuse video raises serious social media questions

UBC and UFV profs weigh in on the subject of online sharing, shaming, and our digital landscape

UPDATED: ICBC fights back against claims that it’s ‘ripping off’ B.C. RV drivers

Canadian Taxpayers Federation is urging the provincial government to open up ICBC to competition

Summerland issues State of Local Emergency in response to wildfire

Two homes under evacuation order; evacuation alert remains in place as result of wildfire

Most Read