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“Countries like Germany should be reducing the amount of natural gas that they buy from Russia, not increasing it. But that’s what this Nord Stream II pipeline between Russia and Germany does, it increases the amount of natural gas that Germany will be buying from Russia.”

Click here to watch Sen. Barrasso’s remarks.

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) spoke on the Senate floor about legislation he introduced today to give North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members an escape from Russia’s political coercion and manipulation.

The Energy Security Cooperation with Allied Partners in Europe Act, or the “ESCAPE Act,” enhances the energy security of NATO members by providing those countries with reliable and dependable American energy. It also mandates sanctions on the Nord Stream II pipeline that would carry natural gas from Russia to Germany, along with other Russian energy export pipelines.

Excerpts of Senator Barrasso’s remarks:

“Last week, President Trump was in Europe meeting with other NATO leaders.

“One of the major issue he raised was the need to bolster energy security throughout NATO.

“He specifically talked about a natural gas pipeline that the Russians are building between Russia and Germany.

“It’s called the Nord Stream II pipeline.

“President Trump was absolutely right to bring up this important subject.

“Here’s how the Boston Herald put it in an editorial over the weekend: ‘Trump’s testy, tough talk to NATO on point.’

“The president pointed out that Germany relies on natural gas for a substantial amount of its energy needs.

“More than half of Germany’s natural gas imports come from Russia.

“With this new pipeline, Germany will actually increase its dependence on Russian gas.

“Russia will have more of an influence on Germany.

“Germany and other countries are members of NATO –and the reason they are members of NATO is to protect themselves against Russian aggression.

“It does seem that Germany has turned around and given Russian influence over its energy security.

“President Trump pointed out how strange it seems.

“No one who understands the facts can say that President Trump was wrong.

“Even the Obama administration knew it. The rest of NATO knows it. Even Germany knows it.

“When one country allows another aggressive, opportunistic country like Russia to have that kind of influence over its energy security, it’s asking for trouble.

“Germany seems to be betting that increasing its economic ties to the Kremlin will have no effect on the political manipulations that Russia wants to play on Europe.

“It’s a sucker’s bet.

“Energy security is national security. It’s important for the United States – and it’s important for our allies around the world.

“We’ve seen Russia in the past use its natural gas as a geopolitical weapon.

“It threatens other countries, it extorts money from them, and it bullies them.

“The Russians can tell their customers: do what we say, or we turn the tap, and shut off the gas.

“It also means a lot of money going from our NATO allies straight into the Kremlin’s pockets.

“That’s money that they could be using instead to fund their aggression in Europe and other parts of the world.

“With this new pipeline, Russia is seeking to make Germany and the rest of Europe even more dependent, even more susceptible to this kind of Russian coercion.

“The Wall Street Journal had an editorial on this subject last week.

“They wrote that ‘the embarrassment for Berlin and NATO is that Germany is happy to help Vladimir Putin execute this plan.’

“They said, ‘Usually hostages need to be taken, instead of volunteering.’

“Well that’s exactly right.

“Europe needs new energy sources.

“They need diversity in both the types of energy that they use and in where they get their energy from.

“That’s how countries ensure their own long-term economic health and independence is sound.

“Russia has a right to compete in the world market for energy.

“The trouble starts when Russia gets so much of the market in some of these European countries that they are becoming a monopoly.

“Russia is the largest supplier of natural gas to Europe.

“Across Europe, nearly 40 percent of the natural gas imports come from Russia.

“In some countries, it’s virtually 100 percent.

“Countries like Germany should be reducing the amount of natural gas that they buy from Russia, not increasing it.

“But that’s what this Nord Stream II pipeline between Russia and Germany does, it increases the amount of natural gas that Germany will be buying from Russia.

“Germany should absolutely reject the Nord Stream II pipeline as part of their reduction on the dependence of Russia.

“That would help shrink the influence and the threat that Russia continually poses to NATO allies. It would also help our other allies in the region.

“Right now, a lot of Russian gas travels through pipelines that cross Ukraine and other countries in central Europe.

“These countries make money from the gas crossing their territory – and they get a lot of their energy through these pipelines as well.

“If Russia has this other new pipeline to help export its natural gas, it can just shut off the revenue for countries like Ukraine – and it can shut off their energy completely.

“Vladimir Putin actually cut off natural gas supplies to Ukraine in 2006, in 2009, and in 2014.

“He invaded Ukraine, he annexed Crimea in part to cut off access to the natural gas and oil resources.

“It’s this pattern that Vladimir Putin has of using energy as a weapon.

“The best defense against this weapon is for these countries in Europe to have the kind of energy diversity and energy security that I’ve recommended.

“In March, I wrote a letter to the Treasury and State Departments encouraging the Trump administration to look at ways to stop the construction of the Nord Stream II pipeline.

“It was a bipartisan effort – 39 senators from both parties signed onto the letter to express our concerns to President Trump about what was happening between Russia and Germany.

“So today, I took the next concrete step and introduced legislation that would do four very important things.

“First, it directs our representative at NATO to work to achieve energy security for our partners throughout Europe and Eurasia.

“Second, it calls for a comprehensive strategy that involves increasing American energy exports to these countries that are being held hostage by Russia.

“Third, it requires the energy secretary to speed up approvals of American natural gas exports to our NATO allies and other countries.

“Finally, it authorizes mandatory U.S. sanctions on the development of Russian energy pipelines like Nord Stream II.

“It is in the national security interests of our country to help our allies reduce their dependence on Russian energy.

“Where those countries don’t see it for themselves, we need to show them how important it is for their own security.

“Our NATO alliance is strong – a robust energy security strategy will make it even stronger.

“When Vladimir Putin looks at natural gas, he doesn’t think natural gas, he thinks politics, he thinks money, and he thinks power.

“Germany and other countries in Europe and NATO should be doing all they can to diversify their sources of energy – so they can help reduce the threat that Russia poses to themselves.

“The United States should do all that we can – by exporting our abundant natural gas to our allies as quickly as possible.

“We have more than enough natural gas to meet our own needs and to export to our friends around the world.

“We can boost the security of our NATO allies and our friends around the world, and we should be doing it.

“We can do it through a peaceful process, through peaceful means, without spending tax dollars, while at the same time, growing our American economy with the production of American energy.

“President Trump when he came to office, said it’s no longer about energy security, or energy independence, it’s about energy dominance. And what we’ve been blessed with in this country and the amount of energy that we have, the resources that we have.

“We have an opportunity, and I believe an obligation, to use that energy wisely, productively.

“Vladimir Putin thinks about energy as money and as power, and as politics. And I think that what we need to do, with the resources that we have, is what I’m introducing in this legislation today, is a very commonsense approach.”