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Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump, speaking at the NATO summit in Europe Wednesday morning, said he believes Germany is "captive to" and "totally controlled" by Russia because of the planned Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

Be smart, from Axios' future editor Steve LeVine: This is the sound of a natural gas war. Trump wants Germany — an enormous gas purchaser — to buy American liquefied natural gas and is attempting to steal the market now held by Russia.

The details: Nord Stream 2 is an expansion of an existing pipeline, Nord Stream 1, that already transports some gas from Russia to Germany, per the WSJ. This controversial second phase would go live in 2019.

  • The pipeline would likely boost Russia’s authority in Europe when it comes to gas deliveries, according to Ukraine and other European allies. CNBC's Natasha Turak has also written that the pipeline would “increase Germany’s reliance on Russian energy supply.”
  • Nord Stream 2 also runs counter to the EU's energy security strategy, which it outlined in 2014 with a focus on diversity, according to The Atlantic Council.

What Trump's saying: The president has warned that if Germany wants to develop a trade deal with the U.S., it would be dependent on whether Germany drops its Nord Stream 2 plans with Russia.

  • But Germany has said previously that calling the deal off is not legally possible, since all the permits for the pipeline have been issued, per the WSJ.
  • Meanwhile, the State Department’s Dandra Oudkirk has signaled that companies involved in the pipeline project could be subject to U.S. sanctions.

What they’re saying:

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel fired back at Trump, stating that while part of Germany used to be controlled by Soviet Russia, it is not anymore.
  • Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen told CNBC that “Germany is an independent country where energy supply is concerned, we diversify.”

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - World

Courage vs. coddling with China

Peng Shuai of China serves during the China Open in Beijing in 2017. Photo: Andy Wong/AP

The women's professional tennis tour suspended tournaments in China Wednesday out of concern for Peng Shuai, on the same day that a top business voice made excuses for Beijing.

Why it matters: Ahead of February's Winter Olympics in Beijing, some sports figures are taking on the regime — while Big Business shrinks from confrontation with the world's second-largest economy.

2 hours ago - Sports

What to know about the first MLB lockout since 1995

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Hope you enjoyed the recent flurry of free-agent activity, because it's likely the last non-lockout-related MLB news for a while.

Driving the news: The owners locked out the players after the collective bargaining agreement expired at midnight last night, leading to MLB's ninth work stoppage — and first since 1995.

Biden extends mask mandates for travelers into 2022

President Biden delivers remarks at the White House on Dec. 1. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

President Biden will announce new testing protocols for international travelers on Thursday and extend masking requirements through March as the U.S. prepares to fight the Omicron variant this winter, according to senior administration officials.

Driving the news: The U.S. will tighten pre-departure testing protocols starting early next week by requiring all inbound international travelers to take COVID-19 tests within one day of their departure rather than three.