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EU Actively Looking for Alternatives to Russian Gas, May Block Nord Stream 2, EC Prez Says

https://sputniknews.com/20220204/eu-actively-looking-for-alternatives-to-russian-gas-may-block-nord-stream-2-ec-prez-says-1092756727.html

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European officials have threatened to include restrictions against the brand new pipeline among other sanctions to be levied against Moscow in the event of a Russian “invasion” of Ukraine. Russian officials have dismissed the “invasion” claims and accused the West of stoking tensions to justify beefing up NATO’s footprint in Eastern Europe.

The European Union is actively looking for alternatives to Russian gas supplies, primarily from the United States, and the fate of the recently-completed Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline will depend on Russia’s actions, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said.

“Moscow is using gas as a tool to put pressure on us, so Nord Stream 2 cannot be excluded from sanctions lists,” von der Leyen said in an interview with French financial newspaper Les Echos on Friday.

The official accused Russian gas giant Gazprom of delivering less gas to Europe than it is capable of, and suggested that the company should increase deliveries as much as possible to account for the current spike in demand in the region.

Gazprom has indicated repeatedly in recent months that it meets all of its obligations under existing agreements, and is willing to boost supplies to Europe immediately via new long-term contracts. The company has also encouraged Germany to speed up the certification of Nord Stream 2, which would bring up to 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year in additional capacity online. The Russian gas giant has also doubled exports to Europe through Ukraine this week, booking 108 million cubic meters of pipeline capacity for this purpose.
In a separate interview with German business newspaper Handelsblatt, also on Friday, von der Leyen admitted that Gazprom was fulfilling all of its contracts with European countries, but maintained that the company was “doing the minimum,” with “other gas suppliers increasing supplies amid rising demand and record prices, but Gazprom not doing so. This is how the Russian-owned company is sowing doubts about its own reliability,” she suggested.

The politician argued that Europe’s reliance on Russian gas is fraught with risks over the long term, and pledged her support for the construction of a new liquefied natural gas terminal in Germany.

“Generally, we speak to everyone, starting with Norway – a supplier with whom we have had reliable cooperation for a long time, and also with Qatar, Azerbaijan, and Egypt. Of course, the United States also plays a big role. We will hold an energy summit in Washington on 7 February,” von der Leyen said.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project is seen on a pipe at the Chelyabinsk pipe rolling plant in Chelyabinsk, Russia, February 26, 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 31.01.2022

EU Trade Commissioner Says Nord Stream 2 ‘on Pause’ Pending Review of Compliance With European Laws

The EC president also commented on new sanctions being drawn up by Brussels against Russia in the event of an “invasion” of Ukraine, saying that restrictions may include a ban on the sale of high-tech items to Russia which the country “simply cannot replace on its own” in fields including “artificial intelligence and armaments, quantum computers, lasers and space flights. Russia needs to urgently modernize its economy. This cannot be done without technologies in which we undoubtedly hold a leading position in the world,” she stressed.

Von der Leyen warned that the European Commission’s “comprehensive” package of economic and financial sanctions would also include restrictions on access to foreign capital. “This will make Russia’s economy even more fragile,” she suggested.

The European Commission chief visited Finland on Thursday, where she told reporters that the buildup of Russian military forces near Ukraine and in Belarus was the largest of its kind since the Second World War.

Moscow has dismissed the West’s sanctions threats over Ukraine, saying it has plans to hedge risks in place if new restrictions go into effect. Russian officials have also insisted repeatedly that the country has no plans to invade its neighbour, chalking up the claims made by Western officials and media on the subject to fearmongering aimed at justifying the continued buildup of NATO forces near Russia’s border.
A U.S flag waves on the car of U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan next to the main entrance to the Russian Foreign Ministry building during Sullivan's visit to the Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022. Sullivan delivered a U.S. response to the Russian demands for security guarantees over NATO and Ukraine.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.02.2022

‘Preemptive Sanctions’ Against Russia Over Ukraine Almost Ready, Senior US Senator Says

Russia’s concerns proved justified this week, with the Pentagon announcing that 1,000 US troops would be redeployed to Romania, with 2,000 more shipped to Germany and Poland. The US and its allies have also continued their deliveries of lethal arms aid to Kiev, citing the threat of Russian aggression.

In an exceptional development possibly sparked by domestic economic and political instability, Ukrainian officials have sought to reign in their Western patrons’ claims about the “Russian threat” in recent weeks, making statements both behind closed doors and publicly that NATO allegations are overblown, or even criticizing Western media for fearmongering.
US and Ukrainian soldiers attend an opening ceremony of the joint Ukrainian-US military exercise 'Fearless Guardian' at the Yavoriv training ground - Sputnik International, 1920, 29.01.2022

Ukraine’s Zelensky Fears US Deliberately Overplaying Escalation Rhetoric, Reports Say

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