The United States and the European Union announced a new agreement early Friday aimed at reducing Europe’s dependency upon Russian fossil fuels.
The deal was announced amid U.S President Joe Biden’s trip to Europe that is aimed at fortifying an allied response to aid Ukraine and punish Russia for its invasion of its neighbor.
Biden is to travel to Warsaw Friday after finishing up with meetings with the European Commission that began on Thursday afternoon.
Biden and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen produced a joint statement Thursday night following their meeting that expressed their unity in condemning Russia’s “unjustified and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine.”
It also mentioned that they will work to establish a joint task for to address the immediate security needs of the EU.
That partnership was officially announced early Friday by the White House, stating the Biden administration will increase liquefied national gas exports to the EU market by at least 15 billion cubic meters this year with expected increases going forward.
The two governments will simultaneously work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from LNG infrastructure through using clean energy to power onsite operations and reduce leaks as well as build clean and renewable hydrogen-ready infrastructure.
“It will work to ensure energy security for Ukraine and the EU in preparation for next winter and the following while while supporting the EU’s goal to end its dependence on Russian fossil fuels,” the White House said.
The issue of reducing Europe’s energy dependence on Russia has been brought to the forefront as a security issue since Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine has led to worries about an energy crisis in the continent as it has caused a shift away from it as a dependable resource with Germany halting its massive $11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline that ran from Russia through the Baltic Sea to Germany and Europe.
Ahead of Biden’s visit, Ursula told European legislators that the continent “is being rocked by a tectonic shift” not seen since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 as the war in Ukraine is having far reaching consequences not only militarily but also upon energy.
“Energy policy is also security policy,” she said, adding that she would speak with Biden about prioritizing LNG deliveries from the United States to the EU in the coming months.
“We are aiming at having a commitment for additional supplies for the next two winters,” she said.
Jake Sullivan, the Biden administration’s national security, told reporters en route to Brussels on Wednesday that they should expect Biden to look for ways to “surge LNG supplies to Europe” not only in the long term “but over the course of months as well.”
Following his meetings with the commission on Friday morning, he is set speak with Polish President Andrzej Duda, as Warsaw and Washington have not always been on the same page when it comes to their approach to confronting Russia’s invasion.
Earlier this month, Poland had wanted to transfer warplanes to Ukraine — a move that the United States rejected with the Pentagon explaining NATO jets departing from German bases to fly into Russian-contested airspace over Ukraine could escalate the situation.
Poland has also said it supports sending a NATO peacekeeping mission to Ukraine, which the United States said it will not participate in.
Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of NATO, said Thursday before an emergency summit, which Biden attended, that he will not deploy NATO troops on the ground in Ukraine or dispatch planes into its airspace as they have a responsibility to all member states.
“We have a responsibility to ensure that this conflict does not escalate beyond Ukraine,” he said. “That will cause even more suffering, even more death, even more destruction.”
Biden’s trip to Poland follows that of Vice President Kamala Harris earlier this month who went to show support for Ukraine and NATO as well as other allies under threat of Russia.
During the visit, she pledged $53 million in humanitarian assistance to aid displaced Ukrainians.
Since the war began, more than 3.6 million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their country, more than 2.1 million to Poland, which is hosting by far the larges number of refugees fleeing the war, according to United Nations’ data.
Karine Jean-Pierre, White House deputy press secretary, told reporters en route to Europe on Wednesday that Biden plans to thank Duda for the support of his citizenry for their response to the crisis and discuss coordinating their humanitarian support as well as give a speech.
“He’s going to announce further American contributions to respond to the growing flow of refugees and to coordinate humanitarian response to ease the suffering of civilians inside Ukraine,” she said. “I’m not going to get ahead of the president, but this is something that’s coming forward.”
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