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The United States wants to help Europe deal with the Russian energy weapon

US President Joe Biden welcomed in Brussels by Charles Michel, President of the European Council, March 24, 2022.

If some still doubted it a few months ago, the war in Ukraine could only convince them that Russia was ready to use the energy weapon against its European neighbors. In a global environment of economic recovery where gas prices were soaring even before the Kremlin’s offensive, the 27 ministers no longer want to content themselves with waiting for the markets to return to calm, in order to ease the constraint exerted by their dependence on Russian hydrocarbons. Friday, March 25, the European Heads of State and Government, who were meeting in Brussels, therefore discussed at length the path that would allow them to take shelter from Moscow and the surge in energy prices.

Read also Article reserved for our subscribers War in Ukraine: Europe faces the specter of an energy shock

The discussion is not new, but the war in Ukraine has given it new urgency. While at the end of 2021 the positions of European capitals seemed irreconcilable, they have since partially come together. The EU-27 now admit that they need to get organized so that they no longer depend on Russia, where a large part of their imports of gas (40%), oil (25%) and coal (46%) come from. %). Of course, the road ahead is much more important for Germany, which is very dependent on Russian gas, than for France, which is powered by nuclear power, or for Spain, which has strongly developed renewable energies.

But at this stage, the Europeans have not been able to agree on a date when they could do without Gazprom’s services, although the Commission is proposing to achieve this. “well before 2030”. Unless the decision is by then decided in an accelerated manner in the form of sanctions against Moscow, in the event of even more tragic developments in the Ukrainian conflict, the use of chemical weapons, for example.

Constitution of reserves

The Baltic countries and Poland, which insist that the Europeans decide on an embargo against Russian energy in order to deprive Moscow of an important source of income, are campaigning for the Twenty-Seven to go as quickly as possible. The United States, which took such a measure on March 8 against Russia, on which it is much less dependent than the Europeans, is also urging its partners to emancipate themselves.

To protect themselves somewhat, the Twenty-Seven agreed on Friday to fill their gas tanks to at least 80% by 1er November (and 90% from 2023) to prepare for next winter. They also agreed to study the possibility of buying gas together, as they did for vaccines against Covid-19.

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