United States and the European Union (EU) announced this Friday measures to reduce the dependence of the European bloc on Russian gas, while Germany announced that it wants to quickly dispense with the coal and oil bought from Russia, as a result of the invasion of Ukraine.
According to an announcement made this Friday, The United States “will work with international partners and strive to ensure a volume of liquefied natural gas [GNL] for the European Union market of at least 15,000 million cubic meters in 2022″.
In addition to this contribution to the European energy market, a working group between Washington and Brussels will concentrate on diversifying the supply of gas to the European Union, highly dependent on purchases from Russia, especially in the case of Germany.
The sharp rise in the prices of electricity caused the alarm signals to go off at the end of 2021 in the European Unionalthough this picture worsened dramatically as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine a month ago.
It is estimated that the European Union annually buys some 150,000 million cubic meters of gas from Russia, just over 40% of European imports of that fuel, in a high degree of dependency that the block now seeks to break.
Meanwhile, in the first half of 2021, US gas represented around 6% of European imports.
The group announced this Friday will have among its objectives “to ensure energy security for Ukraine and the European Union” for the upcoming boreal winter.
the president of United StatesJoe Biden said this Friday in Brussels that Russian President Vladimir Putin had “used his country’s energy resources (…) to manipulate his neighbors.”
That is why, he said, the United States has blocked all imports of hydrocarbons from Russiarelying on its status as an energy exporting country, but assured that it understood that other countries did not have the conditions to do the same.
“The United States and the European Union are going to work together and take concrete measures to reduce dependence on natural gas” and maximize the use of renewable energy, he added.
Meanwhile, a senior US official told the press that it was clear that Putin uses “energy as a weapon to force and destabilize Europe. And the group that we announced on the day will hit their ability to do it.
Germany announces concrete steps
This Friday Germany announced steps to get rid of its dependence on coal and oil from Russia as early as the end of this year, although it hopes to break that need for gas only by mid-2024.
“The first important steps have been taken to free ourselves from the influence of Russian imports,” Economy Minister Robert Habeck told a news conference.
Habeck pointed out that until the middle of the year Russian oil imports will be cut in half, with a projection of almost total independence by the end of the year.
He also added that “between now and autumn” the country will be “independent of Russian coal.”
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, pressures have multiplied for the EU to adopt sanctions that hit Russian hydrocarbon exports, but this idea faces resistance in the absence of an immediate substitute.
Europe’s dependence on Russian gas is so deep that EU sanctions on Russian banks do not include banking entities to which countries in the bloc make payments for their fuel imports.
The situation worsened even more on Wednesday after Putin announced that his country will require “hostile countries” (in a reference to the European Union) who pay in rubles for their gas purchases.
Germany reacted angrily and immediately, arguing that this would represent a breach of the contracts. “We are going to discuss with our European partners to decide how to respond to that demand,” Habeck said.