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World on the brink: Biden crisis talks over European gas supplies as Russia invasion looms

A senior US official said this morning America had been in discussions with suppliers across the globe that could provide additional natural gas to Europe, “as they attempt to upend the world order”. Another added that if Russia were to cut off supply to Europe, it would have “consequences” for the “one-dimensional economy”.

There have been mounting tensions between Russia and the West in recent months, following a build-up of troops on the border with Ukraine.

There are now an estimated 100,000 Russian troops on the border, stoking fears of an invasion.

The US announced today (Tuesday) that it had put 8,500 troops on alert in the event of an invasion.

In a call with reporters today, a senior administration official said that the US had been “collaborating with our European allies to identify areas where Russia could use energy as a weapon in its aggressive strategy against Ukraine.

“These include, for us, contingency planning in the event of a Russian invasion as they attempt to upend the world order, to damage infrastructure, or withholding supplies from markets in a retaliation for sanctions or other countermeasures by the United States and our allies.”

Russia usually supplies around 40 billion cubic metres of natural gas to Europe per year, according to US estimates.

However, it has already cut that supply by half amid the shortage of natural gas caused by the coronavirus pandemic last year.

The official added that they had been “engaging our European allies to coordinate our response planning, including talking to them how they deploy their existing energy stockpiles, which are, obviously, at significantly low levels this year due to the reduced Russian supplies over the last several months.”

The US has been in discussions with gas and oil suppliers in the US, Africa, Middle East and Asia to make up any shortfall in energy supply.

They said: “We’re also preparing to mitigate against more extreme and, I should add, less likely scenarios where Russia would cut off energy supplies through other European routes.”

Another US official, also on the call, noted that “if Russia decides to weaponise its supply of natural gas or crude oil, it wouldn’t be without consequences to the Russian economy.

“Remember, this is a one-dimensional economy, and that means it needs oil and gas revenues at least as much as Europe needs its energy supply.

“So remember, oil and gas export revenues are two thirds of the total in Russia and about half of Russia’s federal budget revenues. So this is not an asymmetric advantage for Putin; it’s an interdependency.”



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