The US and the European Union established a new collaboration on Friday to reduce Europe’s dependency on Russian energy, a move that top officials described as the beginning of a years-long effort to further isolate Moscow following its invasion of Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to US Vice President Joe Biden, utilizes energy to “coerce and manipulate his neighbors,” and proceeds from its sale are used to “fuel his war machine.”
Biden claims that the cooperation he launched with a top European Union official will change that dynamic by reducing Europe’s reliance on Russian energy supplies while also lowering the continent’s total demand for gas.
This is not only “the correct thing to do from a moral sense,” but it would also “put us on a better strategic footing,” according to the president.
The United States and other countries would expand liquefied natural gas shipments to Europe by 15 billion cubic meters this year as part of the plan, though US officials were unable to specify which countries will deliver the additional energy this year. In the future, even larger packages will be delivered.
Simultaneously, they will work to keep their climate targets on track by using renewable energy to power gas infrastructure and decreasing methane leaks, which may exacerbate global warming.
According to the White House, while the program would most certainly necessitate new facilities for importing liquefied natural gas, the cooperation is also aimed at lowering dependency on fossil fuels in the long term through energy efficiency and other energy sources.
Ursula von der Leyen, the EU’s executive arm, stated that it is critical for Europe to move away from Russia and toward energy suppliers that are trustworthy, friendly, and dependable.
“We want to diminish and eliminate our reliance on Russian fossil resources,” she stated.
Russian energy is a major source of revenue and political influence for the Russian government. Russia supplies about 40% of the natural gas used to heat homes, produce electricity, and power industry in the European Union.
After the announcement, Biden was on his way to Rzeszów, Poland, where US forces are stationed about an hour’s drive from the Ukrainian border.
He’ll be informed on the humanitarian response to the influx of migrants fleeing Ukraine and the plight of those still trapped there. He’ll also visit with members of the 82nd Airborne Division from the United States, who serve alongside Polish forces.
Biden will then fly to Warsaw on Saturday for discussions with Polish President Andrzej Duda and a speech to the Polish people before returning to Washington.
Biden attended three meetings in Brussels on Thursday, organized by NATO, the Group of Seven industrialized nations, and the European Union. The rare sequence of meetings underscores growing alarm over Ukraine’s ongoing conflict, which is now in its second month.
Despite the fact that Ukraine has held off Russia’s invasion far better than predicted, the conflict has turned into a lengthy and violent battle, with thousands of fatalities on both sides and millions of refugees leaving the nation.
Western policymakers are particularly fearful that Russian President Vladimir Putin may resurrect the conflict by employing chemical or perhaps nuclear weapons.
Even though the United States has greatly increased its exports in recent years, getting more liquefied natural gas to Europe might be tough. Many export terminals are already full, while the majority of future terminals are still in the development phases.
According to the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas, an industry advocacy group, the majority of US shipments already travel to Europe. Despite the fact that much of the supply has already been contracted out to purchasers, there are still options to reroute it.
“The United States is in a unique situation because it has flexible LNG that can be diverted to Europe or Asia depending on who is ready to pay the price,” Emily McClain, a Rystad gas markets analyst, said.
Even if the United States is able to export additional gas to Europe, the region may face difficulties in receiving it. Import terminals are generally found towards the shore, where there are less pipeline connections for distribution.
And even if all of Europe’s facilities were fully operational, the amount of gas delivered would likely be less than two-thirds of what Russia sends via pipelines.