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U.S. plans to divert natural gas to Europe if Russia cuts off supplies amid crisis with Ukraine

Biden Administration officials say the U.S. and European allies are coordinating with natural gas suppliers to address a supply cut-off situation by Russia that could occur as a possible side effect to sanctions in the conflict with Ukraine. 

In addition to intensifying defense preparations in the face of a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. is focusing on protecting energy supplies in Europe if sanctions on Russia end in repercussions against European citizens right in the dead of winter, according to the Associated Press.

The European Union (EU) relies on Russia for about one-third of its gas supplies. Therefore, any disruption of Russian gas supplies to Europe would exacerbate an existing energy crisis caused by shortages.

President Joe Biden has even expressed that he would consider imposing direct sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin if Russia moves its military into Ukraine. 

Although Putin has deployed approximately 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border for weeks, he has denied planning an attack. He insists that these Western accusations are to cover up planned NATO provocations.

This was also stressed by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, asserting that the crisis is being driven by U.S. and NATO actions, not by the Russian troop buildup. 

On the other hand, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Monday night that the situation was “under control” and that “there is no reason to panic,” however, Ukraine is receiving military cargo from allies to bolster its defenses.

A potential cut in European gas supplies worries the U.S. As reported by AP, the government is in talks with U.S. suppliers trying to send aid to Europe. The industry opposes exports because they drive up gas costs locally. 

One of the industrial energy manufacturing groups, Industrial Energy Consumers of America, had asked the U.S. Secretary of Energy to limit exports of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, citing rising costs. 

Regarding how the U.S. should respond if Russia cuts gas supplies, Paul Cicio, president of the supplier, said that the group had not taken a position but indicated that his personal opinion is that they should help the allies by sending the necessary gas. 

He also pointed out that China is the primary recipient of U.S. gas exports. A political conflict could be generated by not responding to the Asian giant’s demand and supplying the European U.S. allies. 

“Do we have capacity to supply our allies? Absolutely,″ Cicio said. “But maybe we don’t have capacity to ship to China. So we need to be sensitive to the political crisis. It’s a real serious thing,” he said. 

Amid the crisis, the Biden administration has been looking for additional alternative energy sources, particularly natural gas, to avoid increasing exports in significant volumes, two officials said on condition of anonymity.

The Biden administration officials described the initiative to obtain fuel from alternative sources, if necessary, in North Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the United States. The effort would require “rather smaller volumes from a multitude of sources” to offset the Russian cut, one of the officials said, as reported by the AP.

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