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Yamal liquified natural gas plant in the town of Sabetta, in Arctic Russia. Photo: Vladimir Smirnov/TASS via Getty Images

Gas has loomed large in President Trump’s recent diplomatic dealings: In his meeting with NATO heads of state in Brussels, Trump called Germany “captive” to Russian gas, and in his Helsinki summit with Vladimir Putin, he made the unusual move of fielding regulatory proposals from the Russian president to prevent plummeting prices in the international gas markets.

Why it matters: For better or worse, U.S. foreign policy is contributing to uncertainty among the three countries with the largest gas reserves — Iran, Russia and Qatar — raising alarm among major Asian and European gas importers looking for secure supply sources.

Following the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, the Trump administration has promised to reimpose energy-sector sanctions on Iran, effectively freezing investment on new developments in the market with the world’s largest gas reserves. A third gas giant, Qatar, waits in vain for a U.S.–brokered end to its economic blockade by neighboring Saudi Arabia and UAE.

The Trump administration’s trade policy has added to the unease in global gas markets. American liquefied natural gas (LNG) could be subject to 25% tariffs from Beijing in the next round of tit-for-tat escalation. That would create a strong headwind for U.S. LNG exporters keen to profit from the world’s fastest-growing LNG importer.

As it is, U.S. LNG developers are already alarmed by the Section 232 tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, which have increased the cost of new domestic LNG projects. Delays in NAFTA talks have also raised questions around cross-border gas pipeline projects, at a time when U.S. producers are desperate to move surging supplies to fast-growing markets south of the border.

Meanwhile, Wednesday’s U.S.–EU trade agreement reportedly includes provisions for Europe to import what Trump claims will be “massive” amounts of U.S. liquified natural gas (LNG).

The bottom line: The U.S. has long been seen as a low-risk source of LNG in the global market, especially since its exports are in the hands of the private sector and somewhat shielded from political interference — a key difference from several rival exporters. Nonetheless, the turbulent foreign policy and trade dealings in Washington could prevent the sector from reaching its full potential, as politics edges further into dynamics that have traditionally been market-led.

Robert Johnston is CEO of Eurasia Group and a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council Global Energy Center.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

Army to award Purple Hearts to troops injured in Iran missile attack

Damage at Ain al-Asad military airbase housing U.S. and other foreign troops in the western Iraqi province of Anbar in January 2020. Photo: Ayman Henna/AFP via Getty Images

The Army has approved 39 more Purple Hearts for U.S. soldiers wounded in an Iranian military ballistic missile attack on an Iraq base in January 2020, the Army Times first reported Wednesday.

Why it matters: Most of these soldiers sustained brain injuries, per the Army Times. Then-President Trump dismissed their injuries at the time as "headaches" and "not very serious," sparking backlash from some veterans groups.

Scoop: U.S. begins denying Afghan immigrants

Afghan refugees on a bus bound for temporary housing after arriving in Greece. Photo: Byron Smith/Getty Images

The Biden administration has begun issuing denials to Afghans seeking to emigrate to the United States through the humanitarian parole process, after a system that typically processes 2,000 applications annually has been flooded with more than 30,000.

Why it matters: Afghans face steeper odds and longer processes for escaping to the U.S., despite the earlier sweeping efforts by the Biden administration to assist its allies. Immigration lawyers and advocacy groups say the government has set untenable barriers to a safe haven in the U.S.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dems invoke Robert Byrd to sell Manchin on Senate rules changes

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photos: Diana Walker, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A small group of Senate Democrats is privately invoking the legacy of late West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd in an effort to sway Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to support their plans to change the chamber's rules, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Manchin — who holds Byrd's Senate seat — has often referenced his predecessor's strong moral conviction and insistence on preserving the Senate as an institution, as justification for some of his tough positions.