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US finalizes plans to divert gas to Europe if Russia cuts supply | american foreign policy

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The United States has helped prepare the diversion of natural gas supplies from around the world to Europe in case the flow from Russia is cut off, in a bid to blunt Vladimir Putin’s most powerful economic weapon. .

As fears of an invasion of Ukraine grew, US officials said on Tuesday they had negotiated with global suppliers and were now confident Europe would not suffer a sudden loss. energy for heating in the middle of winter.

“To ensure Europe is able to weather the winter and spring, we expect to be ready to secure alternative supplies covering a large majority of the potential shortfall,” a senior official said.

The preparation of bulk gas deliveries is part of a campaign by the United States and its European allies to show a united and cohesive front to Putin in hopes of deterring him from invading Ukraine.

Boris Johnson hinted Germany was concerned about imposing sanctions on Russia over its reliance on Russian gas and told MPs diplomatic efforts were being made to persuade Berlin and others to go further far.

Britain’s prime minister said ‘European friends’ were worried about imposing the toughest possible sanctions on Moscow over their ‘heavy reliance’ on Russian gas – and also said the UK would be ready to deploy more troops in Eastern Europe if Ukraine were attacked. .

His comments came as French President Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz, Germany’s new chancellor, met in Berlin on Tuesday to coordinate positions, after reports of divisions between the allies.

Macron said he was due to speak by phone with Putin on Friday, to “clarify” Russia’s position. He said France and Germany would never abandon dialogue with Russia, but added: “If there is aggression, there will be reprisals and the cost will be very high.”

Deputy Kremlin Chief of Staff Dmitry Kozak is due to travel to Paris on Tuesday for talks with political advisers from Ukraine, France and Germany, in a continued effort to keep the talks going, with around 130 000 Russian soldiers currently massed around the Ukrainian borders.

A senior US administration official said the convergence between the US and the EU on financial sanctions was “remarkable” and that the impact on Russia of the combined punitive measures would be far greater than the response to the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014.

“The gradualism of the past is over, and this time we will start at the top of the climbing ladder and stay there,” the official said.

Russia has already limited the flow of natural gas through the pipeline through Ukraine from around 100 million cubic meters per day to 50 MCM, US officials said. Washington now believes that almost all of this can be quickly replaced if the pipeline is cut deliberately or as a result of conflict.

Fears that Putin could cut gas supplies have made some European countries, such as Germany, reluctant to impose sanctions on Putin if he carries out an invasion. The Biden administration also insists that US and European financial sanctions plans are converging and that the US is preparing export controls on Western technology that would cripple Putin’s efforts to diversify his economy.

US talks with Qatar have been widely reported, but the administration said the talks have been global.

“The conversation is really broad, with a lot of companies and countries around the world. It’s not centered on one or two vendors,” an official said. “And in doing so, you don’t need to asking a particular company or country to increase exports of large volumes, but rather smaller volumes from a multitude of sources.”

The United States also said it was preparing restrictions on exports to Russia of high-tech software and hardware made by the United States and its allies. Officials said the measures would affect Russian ambitions in aerospace, defence, lasers and sensitive technologies, maritime, artificial intelligence and quantum computers.

“When we select these sectors, it’s quite deliberate,” an official said. “These are areas that Putin himself has championed, as the way forward for Russia to diversify its economy beyond oil and gas. And that would lead to an atrophy of Russia’s production capacity over time.

Meanwhile, the flow of arms to Ukraine has accelerated. US officials have confirmed that a plane carrying hundreds of Javelin anti-tank missiles has arrived in Kyiv, and a shipment of more Javelins is ready to depart from Estonia.

“On the Javelins, it’s decided and we have the approval of the United States, so it’s only a matter of time when we will send them,” an Estonian official said, adding that they would be sent “as soon as possible”. .”

The Estonian government also intends to send Ukrainian howitzers, but is still awaiting approval from Germany, where the weapons come from, and Finland, which provided some of the guns to the Estonia.

“With the howitzers, we don’t have an official response from the Germans or the Finns. So, insofar as we don’t have them, we can’t say whether it will be a yes or a no. We will wait,” the official said. A joint German-Estonian delivery of field hospitals, scheduled for last summer, is expected to take place in the coming weeks.

Latvia and Lithuania supply Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine. The UK sent 2,000 anti-tank missiles and Saxon armored vehicles, and Turkey provided Bayraktar drones.

The United States has placed 8,500 troops on heightened alert for deployment in Eastern Europe in a bid to reassure NATO members in the region that Washington is determined to defend them. US officials told Fox News that elite troops from the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions were among the standby troops.

Ukraine is not a member of NATO, and the alliance’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, clarified in an interview with CNN on Tuesday that no combat troops from the alliance would be sent to Ukraine. There are currently a few hundred advisers in the country from the US, UK and other allies.

US finalizes plans to divert gas to Europe if Russia cuts supply | american foreign policy

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