Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday pledged $1 billion in U.S. support to help Europe avoid reliance on Russia for energy needs.
Pompeo made the announcement in a speech during the second day of the Munich Security Conference in Germany.
The conference is a "venue for diplomatic initiatives" that address security issues, its website states.
The $1 billion in support will go to the Three Seas Initiative, an effort to promote unity among 12 European Union member states with a focus on energy, infrastructure and digital connectivity.
"Our aim is quite simple: It is to galvanize private sector investment in the energy sector to protect freedom and democracy around the world," Pompeo said.
U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., introduced a bipartisan resolution supporting the strategic partnership in November with the goal to reduce reliance on Russia for energy.
"Russia has long used energy as a weapon to coerce and manipulate our European allies," Kinzinger said in a statement. "The Three Seas Initiative will bolster energy independence and infrastructure security in the region, and further show U.S. support in the face of increased Russian and Chinese influence over these countries."
Pompeo's comments Saturday came amid European criticism of President Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan and "America first" foreign policy.
"Our closest ally, the United States of America, under the current administration, rejects the very concept of the international community," German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on the conference's first day. "'Great again' but at the expense of neighbors and partners."
"Thinking and acting this way hurts us all," Steinmeier added.
Pompeo defended Trump's pressure on several European allies to boost military spending. In particular, Trump tweeted last summer that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has been "very unfair of the United States," since other countries have not been contributing as much to shared defense expenditures.
"The United States has urged NATO on to $400 billion in new pledges," Pompeo said. "We did this because our nations are safer when we work together and when we field the strongest forces and capabilities."