The battery of sanctions is already agreeed and both Olav Scholz (President of Germany) and Joe Biden (President of the United States of America) have once and another repeated that all the allies are ready to take all the steps needed to apply these sanctions if Russia’s army enters the territory of Ukraine.
Biden underscored at the joint press conference held by both Presidents at the end of their meeting today at The White House in Washington that he and nobody knows what is going to happen “Putin is who knows what is going to happen”.
On the issue of the gasoduct connecting Russia and Germany (North Stream II), the President of the United States said crystal clear as well: “the notion that Nord Stream would go forward with an invasion by the Russians, it’s just not going to happen.”
The President of Germany avoided talking about the NorthStream gasoduct but assured that the sanctions battery is already agreed and that his country would act united and jointly with their ally the USA to apply them.
President Biden explained that the sanctions agreedagainst Russia, if applied, will negatively affect all the countries in conflict including the USA but that the effects on the Russian economy would be devastating.
Olav Scholz is currently in the US. This is Scholz’s first official travel to the United States as elected President of Germany.
Europe deppends on Russian gas, but the economy of Russia relies on the sale of their gas as well
After many questions by the press on the way to wave a possible use of the gas suppy by Russia as a geo-political weapon Biden highlighted the other side of the same issue: you know, what everybody forgets here is Russia needs to be able to sell that gas and sell that oil. Russia relies, a significant part of Russia’s budget, it’s the only thing they really have to export. And if, in fact, it’s cut off, then they’re going to be hurt very badly, as well. And it’s of consequence to them as well. This is not just a one-way street.”
Olav Scholz had explained before that the so called dependence of Germany from the Russian LNG imports is not as huge as US press and citizens could think.
In the energy mix of Germany, Scholz underscored, Gas represents a quarter of the total energy supply and of this quarter, Russia provides just a part. Germany also sources the gas the country needs from other countries like The Nederlands or the Baltic countries, for example from Norway.
The President of Germany also pointed that his country is on the run towards becoming a climate neutral economy by 2045 and that this is a process started off by all the members of the EU. In the decarbonized economy renewables (wind and solar) and hydrogen are to replace hidro carbons and gas.
“…the energy mix today, we are talking about one quarter of our energy that is linked to gas. And only part of that gas comes from Russia; a big part comes from Norway or the Netherlands. And, of course, it is very important to us that we develop an infrastructure that will give us the opportunity to have all options available and react if needed.
So, you don’t have to be concerned. There are some who should be concerned who see themselves maybe too much as a deliverer of such resources. Because we are focusing on renewable energies, we will go down that path and make sure that this is the profitable future,” Scholz stressed.
EU and US blame Russia for using Gas as a geo-political weapon and outline plan to cushion a possible cut in supply t Europe by the Ukrainian crisis
“As President Biden and European Commission President von der Leyen described in their joint statement just a couple of weeks ago, we’re working together right now to protect Europe’s energy supply against supply shocks including those that could result from further Russian aggression against Ukraine. Energy security is tied directly to national security, regional security, global security. Europe needs reliable and affordable energy, especially in the winter months.
“When Russia halted gas supplies to Europe over a dispute with Ukraine in 2009, people died from the cold. And when energy supplies fail, economies falter. We’re determined to prevent that from happening and to mitigate the impact on energy supplies and prices should Russia choose to cut natural gas supplies to Europe more than it already has. For example, we’re talking with governments and major producers around the world about surging their production and distribution capacity; we’re coordinating with our allies and partners, with energy sector stakeholders, including about how best to share energy reserves in the event that Russia turns off the spigot or initiates a conflict that disrupts the flow of gas through Ukraine, Anthony Blinken (Secretary of Stat of the USA) explained during the press conference held on the occasion of the US-EU Energy Council that has taken place in Washington today.
“…today’s discussion after our bilateral meeting has been about energy on the EU-U.S. Energy Council, and this has demonstrated again our strong transatlantic unity on geopolitical questions and around climate and energy issues. This meeting could have not been more timely. This ninth meeting of the Energy Council, after four years without meeting, has been a good occasion to deal with the current circumstances of the threats that Russia is putting on the eastern borders of Europe.
“Our joint work is needed to accelerate a green energy transition to become neutral from the point of view of our climate in the future. In the medium term, there is the climate neutrality. In the short term, it’s security of supplies of gas. Both things go together. We need to face the current situation in the eastern border keeping in mind the purpose of decarbonizing our energy mix, because the only lasting solution to energy resilience, security, is going from fossil fuels to renewables. It is the best way of facing the challenge of climate change.
“Today our environment is characterized by the geopolitical turbulence in the context of Russia and Crimea crisis, and energy issues are central to this crisis because Russia doesn’t hesitate to use the significant energy supplies to Europe as the leverage for geopolitical gains. And when gas prices in European Union have been increasing from 6 to 10 times higher than they were a year ago, 10 times higher than one year ago, this has a major impact on consumers and on the competitivity of the economy,” EU High representative of Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell pointed.
“That’s why our immediate priority to diversify the sources of energy, in particular the gas flows, to avoid supply disruption from our main supplier, who is Russia, and to ensure that the world energy markets will be liquid, competitive, and well-supplied. Keep in mind that for Europe, our dependency from gas is about 95% of our consumption, oil 97%, coal 70%. These figures are a good indicator of the need of shifting our energy mix to renewables,” Borrell added.
United to sanction Russia if invading Ukraine, but dialogue still the first option
“As to the current crisis around Ukraine, we have seen eye-to-eye our determination to give a united response to Russia’s threats. This is our best asset.
“We have repeated our call to Russia to de-escalate. Our multilayered diplomatic engagement will continue on various levels and in different formats, as bilateral contacts, the Normandy talks, the OSCE, and NATO. We certainly at the European Union, we welcome the elements outlined in the U.S. and NATO responses to the Russian demands on European security coordination with the U.S. and NATO. I think it’s exemplary and shows our unity and determination.
“We believe that the diplomatic way out of the crisis is still possible, and this is our clear and first priority, and that’s what we are investing all our efforts. But at the same time, we remain firm in our resolve that further aggression against Ukraine would have, as the Secretary of State said, massive consequences, and we hope for the best, but we prepare for the worst. Should Russia continue on a path of aggression, the European Union and the United States actions will be closely aligned, including on sanctions,” Borrell said.
“When the EU and the United States are working together, we have a tremendous capacity to lead the world. Together our economies represent about 45 percent of world GDP. When we’re acting in concert we can move others, motivate others, and actually deal effectively with the challenges that are before our people and people around the world. So I was particularly pleased to have this opportunity to focus today on energy, but almost quite literally every day in the work that we’re doing together,” US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken underscored.
Image over the headline.- Joe Biden (President of the United States) and Olav Scholz (President of Germany) at The White House. Photos, Bundeskanzler Amt.
Related external links:
Joint press conference held by Josep Borrell (EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs) and Anthony Blinken (Secretary of State of the USA) on the occassion of the US-EU Energy Council meeting at Washington on 7 February 2022 -transcript and video-