US officials said Tuesday (local time) their “greatest fear” had come true as Russia cuts gas supplies to Europe and the Biden administration works hard behind the scenes to keep the European allies together.
Moscow is cutting its energy supplies to the European Union, causing panic on both sides of the Atlantic over potentially severe gas shortages as winter approaches, U.S. officials have said, CNN reported. On Monday, Russia’s state-owned gas company Gazprom announced it would halve flows through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline to Germany to just 20% of capacity.
A US official said the move was a retaliation for Western sanctions and puts the West in “uncharted territory” when it comes to whether Europe will have enough gas to get through the EU. winter, CNN reported.
In response to the turmoil, the White House dispatched Presidential Coordinator for Global Energy Amos Hochstein to Europe on Tuesday, officials said.
He will travel to Paris and Brussels to discuss contingency planning with the US-EU energy task force created in March, a month after Russia invaded Ukraine.
“It was our biggest fear,” the US official said. The impact on Europe could backfire on the United States, driving up prices for natural gas and electricity, the official said.
It will also be a major test of European resilience and unity against Russia, as the Kremlin shows no signs of pulling back from Ukraine.
The US and Brussels pleaded with EU members to save gas and store it for the winter, and on Tuesday energy ministers agreed in principle to cut gas consumption by 15% from August to March, CNN reported.
There will also be talks in the coming days about increasing nuclear power generation across Europe to offset gas shortages, officials said.
Germany planned to completely phase out its use of nuclear power by the end of 2022, but US officials are hoping to convince Berlin to extend the life of its three remaining nuclear power plants amid the energy crisis, a report said. said a manager.
American officials, who have been in close contact with German and French officials in particular on this subject, are extremely concerned that Europe could face a serious shortage of gas as winter approaches. Indeed, EU countries will struggle to fill their reserves over the next few months, with Nord Stream 1 supplying only a fraction of its capacity, CNN reported.
Germany abandoned plans for another Russia-Europe gas pipeline, Nord Stream 2, after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
The United States was opposed to the pipeline, warning that it would only increase Europe’s dependence on Russian gas. But Germany argued that the pipeline was a purely commercial project and could serve as an energy bridge by phasing out nuclear and coal.
The United States eventually issued waivers allowing the pipeline project to proceed without crippling sanctions.
Now officials have said that a 15% reduction in gas consumption in Europe, as well as an increase in global exports of liquefied natural gas to Europe, including from the United States, is unlikely to be enough. to make up for shortages, CNN reported.
“Russia is waging an open gas war against a united Europe,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Tuesday.
The US official said it was clear that the Russians are “running wild” and trying to “destabilize Europe” because they are not achieving their goals in Ukraine.
A spokesman for the National Security Council called Russia’s moves “the latest attempt to use natural gas as a political and economic weapon.”
“Russia’s energy coercion has squeezed energy markets, driven up prices for consumers and threatened global energy security. These actions only underscore the importance of the work the United States and the European Commission are doing to end our dependence on Russian energy,” the spokesperson said.
“We will continue to work with our European partners to reduce reliance on Russian energy and support their efforts to prepare for further Russian destabilization of energy markets.”