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US Senators introduce European energy bill to combat Russian influence

Two US Senators issued a press release on Wednesday to announce the introduction of the European Energy Security and Diversification Act.

Published: October 11, 2018, 10:07 am

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    According to Chris Murphy and Ron Johnson, the Act will provide new tools for the United States to combat “malign Russian influence” as well as create economic opportunities for the country, not only at home but also abroad.

    “Russia uses its dominance of the energy market, along with bribery, corruption and propaganda to undermine Western institutions and install pliant governments that are unable or unwilling to counter Russia or its president, Vladimir Putin,” the release said.

    “The European Energy Security and Diversification Act will authorize $1 billion in US financing for European energy projects that, paired with increased diplomatic and technical support, will help diversify Europe’s energy supply and decrease Russia’s hold on the region.”

    The senators argued that Russia was doing everything in its power to gain influence over countries in its geographical sphere.

    “We’ve rightly invested billions to shore up military defenses in Eastern Europe, but let’s not forget the equally dangerous implications of Russia’s energy stranglehold on Europe,” Murphy said. “Vladimir Putin gets away with a lot because so much of Europe relies on Russia for energy.”

    Murphy explained that by helping US allies secure new sources of energy and contribute to strategically important projects, Washington “can help break Putin’s grip on Europe and create jobs here in the US.”

    The Act will authorise the US Trade and Development Agency and other agencies to support US private sector investment in strategically important energy projects in Central and Eastern Europe from fiscal year 2019 to 2023.

    Projects are largely in support of natural gas infrastructure, including storage facilities for liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports and reverse flow capacity, according to the release.

    Mediterranean natural gas discoveries are reshaping the Middle East through the use of sanctions aimed at isolating Iran, the assistant secretary at the US State Department’s Bureau for Energy Resources, Francis Fannon, said on Wednesday.

    Fannon criticised Russia’s Nord Stream pipeline to Europe, saying the project wanted to divide “free nations” and that Eastern Mediterranean gas could “reinforce” European energy security.

    “There should be many suppliers, but one Europe and one trans-Atlantic alliance,” Fannon said. Russia “uses energy for coercive political aims,” he claimed.

    Gas consumption is set to rise, according to expert assessments. The general consumption of energy in the world, by 2040, will increase by a further 30 percent.

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