May 17, 2022 7:20 am

US prepares alternative gas supplies for Europe if Putin turns off the tap

Correspondent in New York



“Russia has a long history of using measures other than military action to carry out aggression,” US President Joe Biden said last week. One of the main assets in this sense is to affect the supply of natural gas to Europe, which runs through Ukraine. The possibility that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, closes or further reduces the gas tap – it has already fallen by half compared to its normal volume – is one of the great concerns in European countries, in the midst of a winter with prices fired energy. About a third of the gas consumed in the region comes from Russia and if Putin, amid tensions on the border with Ukraine, takes the measure, winter and spring could be very long in Europe.

The consequences of a drop in Russian gas supply is one of the factors causing division on the response to Russia by European countries and on the establishment of a strong and coordinated sanctions regime with the US against Moscow. Perhaps that is the reason why the Biden Administration has worked in recent weeks to find alternative routes to Russian gas and reassure its European partners in this regard. “To ensure that Europe is able to withstand this winter and spring, we hope to be prepared to secure alternative supplies that cover most of the possible reduction,” said a senior US government official in a media briefing yesterday.

“We are working with countries and companies around the world to secure the supply and mitigate the price shocks that affect both the US and the US. like the rest of the world”, added the senior official, who acknowledged that if the Ukrainian gas pipelines stop transporting gas – either by order of Putin or as a result of a possible armed conflict – the European countries would be the main affected.

According to the Biden Administration, the US and its European partners are coordinating a response to this situation, which includes “identifying non-Russian gas volumes from different areas of the world, from North Africa and the Middle East to Asia and the US”. USA» “We are in negotiations with major natural gas producers around the world to understand their capacity and their willingness to temporarily increase gas production and dedicate those volumes to European buyers,” said the senior official, who added that these efforts also have to do with liquefied gas suppliers so that they are flexible with their current contracts and storage to respond to a possible need in Europe.

Weapon of war

In the last weeks, there have been talks with Qatar about it, but, according to the Biden Administration, they extend to countries and producers around the world.

For the US, if Putin decides to turn Russian gas into a weapon of war, that will have consequences for the US economy. «Russia needs oil and gas revenue as much as Europe needs its supply», defended the high position. In addition to this impact, the US and its European partners are making progress in preparing severe economic sanctions if Putin decides to go ahead with the invasion. “The convergence on sanctions with the Europeans is very important,” said the senior official, although there have been different positions in recent days.

Washington bets on a battery of measures on several fronts: global controls on the export of chips and semiconductors to Russia to stifle their technological capacity; expel Russia from the Swift financial transaction system; extensive sanctions on financial entities, large companies, members of the Government and the Armed Forces; or cancel the entry into operation of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which connects Russia with Germany, and which avoids passing through Ukraine.

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