US pledges LNG to trim EU reliance on Russian fuels

US pledges LNG to trim EU reliance on Russian fuels

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Joe Biden
US President Joe Biden announces more than US$1 billion in new humanitarian assistance from the US to Ukrainians. Photo from White House.
  • US President Biden says the initiative will deprive Russia of energy profits from Europe to fuel the Ukraine war
  • US sanctions more than 400 additional persons and entities including the Duma and 328 MPs, dozens of defense firms and more than 20 financial elites
  • US leader gives more than US$1 billion in new humanitarian aid 

US President Joe Biden announced in Brussels on March 25 a new initiative to deprive Russian President Vladimir Putin of European energy profits that Biden says are used to fuel Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

Speaking in Brussels alongside European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen before flying to Poland, Biden said Putin was using its supply of oil and gas to “coerce and manipulate its neighbors.” He said the US would help Europe reduce its dependence on Russian oil and gas, and ensure the continent had enough supplies for the next two winters.

Biden arrived in Europe on Wednesday evening for a four-day trip aimed at keeping up pressure on Russia over the Ukraine war said the US will work to supply 15 billion cu.m this year.

Senior administration officials said the gas would come from the US and allies in Asia until such time infrastructure will have been built to bring up the supply to 50 billion cu.m. before 2030.

“It’s going to take some time to adjust gas supply chains and infrastructure that (were) built for the last decade so we’re going to have to make sure the families in Europe can get through this winter and the next while we’re building an infrastructure for a diversified, resilient and clean energy future,” Biden said.

Biden and von der Leyen announced a joint task force meant to help wean Europe from its dependence on Russian oil and gas. The panel, chaired by representatives from the White House and the European Commission, will be aimed towards finding alternative supplies of LNG and reducing overall demand for natural gas moving forward.

Europe’s dependence on Russian gas and oil has proved a major sticking point in western efforts to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

In a joint statement after their first meeting on Thursday, Biden and von der Leyen said they are “continuing coordinated transatlantic efforts to support the Ukrainian people, impose severe costs on Russia for its unjustifiable actions, and strengthen the resilience of our democracies, economies, and societies.”

This includes more than US$1 billion in new humanitarian assistance from the US on top of the nearly US$300 million already contributed and €550 million from the EU.

In an annex to their joint statement, the leaders said the US is sanctioning more than 400 additional individuals and entities to align with measures taken by the EU and its allies and partners. These include the Duma (Russia’s lower house of parliament) and 328 MPs, dozens of defense firms and more than 20 financial elites, including the head of Russia’s largest financial institution.

“Additionally, as announced in today’s G7 leaders’ statement, we are establishing an initiative to monitor the full implementation of our sanctions measures and coordinate responses against sanctions evasion. This will ensure that Russia will not be able to backfill or find workarounds that undermine the effect of our sanctions,” they said.

Biden’s triple summit meetings in Europe on Thursday included a meeting with Group of Seven leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom that focused on tariffs and trade and how to manage the economic impact of the Ukraine crisis.

On Friday, the US president flew to Poland for a meeting on Saturday with President Andrzej Duda to reassure his host of US resolve to protect member countries on NATO’s eastern flank against any attempt by Putin to carry his onslaught beyond Ukraine’s borders.

After arriving at Rzeszów-Jasionka Airport late Friday, Biden received a briefing by charities on the humanitarian response to the war and the situation of Ukraine.

More than 3.5 million refugees have now fled Ukraine, according to data from the United Nations refugee agency released on Tuesday. A vast majority of those refugees have fled to Ukraine’s western neighbors across Europe.

Biden met with service members from the 82nd Airborne Division in Rzeszów, even enjoying some pizza with the troops. “I just wanted to come by and say thanks. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you,” Biden said as he walked into a cafeteria.

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