Russia, US In A New Cold War Over Energy

Putin has warned neighboring countries of consequences if they look westward for energy

United States and Russia are once again locked in a Cold War-style conflict. But this time it’s not about military supremacy. It is more about oil, natural gas, ports, pipelines and power plants, say Bradley Klapper and Matthew Lee of The Associated Press in a detailed report. United States has launched an aggressive campaign to reduce the Central and Eastern Europe’s reliance on Russian energy.

Liberate European countries from economic bullying by Russia

U.S. officials say the Central and Eastern European countries must be liberated from “decades of economic bullying by Moscow.” The former Soviet states and satellites depend on Russia for about 75% of their energy needs. America is pushing the U.S. companies’ bids for fracking exploration and nuclear plants in Europe. The Obama administration is helping these countries build natural gas terminals and pipelines.

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But Russia is not the one to give up or sit idly as the U.S. makes headway. Putin has warned neighboring countries that they will have to face consequences if they look westward for energy. Russia is trying to acquire pipeline infrastructure across Europe to control how its fuel reserves move westward. The State Department’s special envoy for international energy affairs, Amos Hochstein, said it was like a “chess match.”

Ukraine crisis has upped the ante

Though United States has been asking European countries for decades to find new sources of coal, gas and oil, they seem to have woken up only recently. The Ukraine crisis has dramatically changed their mindset about depending so heavily on Russia for their energy needs. Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its support for separatists in Ukraine war have upped the ante.

Though European countries are worried about Russia shutting down the energy supply, infighting among energy companies and European governments has hindered Europe’s diversification efforts. Last month, John Kerry visited Bulgaria to help build a nuclear plant. In November, Joe Biden visited Turkey and Romania to press the case for energy diversification.

With the U.S. help, Poland and Lithuania will soon start importing natural gas from Qatar and Norway.