BRUSSELS – The United States and the European Union on Friday announced a new partnership to reduce the continent’s dependence on Russian power, a step taken by top officials, marking the beginning of a year-long effort to further isolate Moscow following the invasion of Ukraine.
U.S. President Joe Biden stressed that Russian President Vladimir Putin uses force to “coerce and manipulate his neighbors” and to profit from the sale of “to operate his war machine.”
Biden says the partnership he has announced jointly with a top EU official will turn that momentum on its head, reducing Europe’s dependence on Russian energy sources as well as reducing the continent’s gas demand as a whole.
The president said such a move would “not only be the right thing to do from a moral point of view” but would “put us in a strong strategic position.”
Under the plan, the United States and other countries will increase their export of 15 billion cubic meters of liquefied natural gas to Europe this year, although US officials have been unable to say exactly which countries will supply the surplus this year. Larger shipments will be delivered in the future. .
At the same time, they will try to keep track of their climate targets with clean energy, powering gas infrastructure and reducing methane leaks that could worsen global warming.
Although the initiative will likely require new facilities for importing liquefied natural gas, the partnership also seeks to reduce long-term dependence on fossil fuels through energy efficiency and alternative energy sources, according to the White House.
Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Union’s executive branch, said it was important for Europe to move away from Russia and move towards reliable, friendly and reliable energy suppliers.
“We aim to reduce this dependence on Russian fossil fuels and get rid of it,” he said.
Russian power is the main source of income and political leverage for Moscow. About 40% of the EU’s natural gas comes from Russia for home heating, power generation and the power industry.
After the announcement, Biden left Brussels for Reges, Poland, where US troops are stationed about an hour’s drive from the Ukrainian border.
He will be briefed on the humanitarian response of refugees from Ukraine and those still suffering inside the country. He will also meet with U.S. Army members from the 82nd Airborne Division, who are working alongside Polish soldiers.
Biden is expected to fly to Warsaw on Saturday for talks with Polish President Andrzej Dudar and a speech to the Polish people before leaving for Washington.
While in Brussels, Biden attended a trilateral summit hosted by NATO, seven industrialized nations and the European Union on Thursday. The extraordinary series of meetings reflects higher concerns about the war in Ukraine, which has entered its second month.
Although Ukraine initially resisted the Russian aggression much more successfully than expected, the conflict has turned into a terrible and bloody event, with thousands of casualties on each side and millions of refugees fleeing the country.
Western leaders are also concerned that Russian President Vladimir Putin could use chemical or even nuclear weapons to regain momentum in the war.
It may be difficult to find more liquefied natural gas in Europe, although the United States has dramatically increased its exports in recent years. Many export facilities are already working with capacity, and most of the new terminals are still only at the planning stage.
According to the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas, most U.S. shipments already go to Europe, an industrial lobbying group. Although most of the supply has already been contracted with buyers, there is still the opportunity to move to its destination.
“The US is in a unique position because it has flexible LNG that can be returned to Europe or Asia, depending on who is willing to pay that price,” said Emily McClain, a gas market analyst at Ristad.
Even if the United States could send more gas to Europe, the continent could fight to get it. Import terminals are located in coastal areas, where it has fewer pipeline connections for distribution.
And if all of Europe’s facilities were to function efficiently, the amount of gas Russia would supply through the pipeline would probably be about two-thirds.
Bussewitz reports from New York. Darling Superville, an Associated Press writer in Washington, contributed to this report.