Russian President Vladimir Putin praised President Trump’s business skills, even as the U.S. puts a Russian energy project in jeopardy.
“Donald isn’t just president of the United States, he’s also a good and strong entrepreneur,” Putin said at a Friday meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Sochi, Russia. “He’s also promoting the interests of his business to ensure sales in the European market of liquified American gas.”
The White House is fighting the Nord Stream 2 gas-pipeline project, which connects Russia and Germany, saying it sucks gas-transit revenue away from Ukraine while boosting Russian natural gas sales in Europe. The project also introduces security concerns, the U.S. says, such as Russia’s plan to install surveillance equipment underwater in the Black Sea.
The U.S. has threatened additional sanctions against Russia if the $11 billion pipeline is completed. The Trump administration has already slapped sanctions on the country as punishment for meddling in the 2016 election.
Germany is suspicious of Russia’s support for the pipeline, since the project has “strategic significance” regarding Ukraine, but Putin has claimed Russia’s interest is “exclusively economic.”
“We need to discuss the question of what sort of guarantees can be offered to Ukraine in this context,” Merkel said of the possibility the project will be completed.
Putin said he does not blame Trump for looking out for America’s interest, but added the project is “beneficial for us. We’ll fight for it.”
Trump has praised Putin’s leadership skills but has also stated that “nobody has been tougher on Russia” than his administration.