Ukraine conflict: Europe is preparing for an emergency – Politics

The USA and leading EU countries are taking precautions to ensure Europe’s energy supply and avoid price shocks in the event of an escalation of the Ukraine crisis. Talks are being held with gas producers in North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, the US and Australia to compensate for potential gas supply disruptions from Russia, senior US officials said. These were to deliver natural gas through pipelines and liquid gas should Russian President Vladimir Putin interrupt the flow of gas to Europe or should lines needed for transport be damaged or destroyed by hostilities.

According to the US government, no single producer is able to fully compensate for the possible losses. However, supplies from a number of producing countries combined could provide enough gas for Europe to meet much of its needs for the remainder of the winter and through spring with remaining reserves. The aim of the talks is that such deliveries can be made available within days rather than months.

The US government pointed out that Russia had reduced its gas supplies to Europe by half compared to the usual volume, as well as the transit through Ukraine. Moscow emphasizes that it is complying with all agreements. This applies to the long-term delivery commitments. However, these play less of a role than short-term supply contracts. The gas storage facilities in Germany have reached a record low of 41 percent at this time of the year, partly because Russia did not fill the storage facilities as usual in the summer.

According to Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens), the security of supply in Germany and Europe, especially with regard to gas supplies, was also a central topic of his talks with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday in Brussels and the meetings with other EU commissioners. “The phasing out of burning fossil fuels also strengthens Europe geopolitically and protects the climate,” he said on his first visit to the European Union. Concrete results were not known until the evening.

Washington went on to say that in the debate about possible reactions to Russian aggression, there is remarkable harmony between the US and the Europeans. This affects both financial sanctions and export restrictions on technology for important sectors of the Russian economy.

US President Joe Biden discussed this in a video conference that night with the head of the European Union, the NATO Secretary General and the heads of government in France, Great Britain, Italy, Poland and Germany. The US Department of Defense had previously stated that 8,500 soldiers would be put on increased standby in order to be able to move them to Europe more quickly. Such a transport will also be decided in consultation with NATO.

French President Emmanuel Macron met Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin in the evening to discuss the Ukraine crisis. Macron’s Russia adviser Pierre Vimont was to travel to Moscow at the same time and prepare a possible phone call between Macron and Putin. It was said from the Élysée that the President believes that there is room for diplomacy and a defusing of the conflict. Macron wants to propose a way of de-escalation to Putin. At the same time, he wanted to make it clear that Russia’s military actions would have very serious consequences.

The EU promised Ukraine economic aid in the form of a €1.2 billion emergency loan. According to Commission President von der Leyen, 120 million euros in grants are also planned. According to information from the Süddeutsche Zeitung also to the federal government. According to EU diplomats, Germany, Italy, Spain and Greece blocked the plan to train officers of the Ukrainian army. Although the mission is not scheduled to begin until the fall, the concerns are dragging the necessary planning down. The Foreign Office said that Germany was not rejecting the mission, but that the legal basis still had to be agreed. There are various options for this.

Harsh criticism of Germany’s position in the Ukraine crisis came from Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Tuesday. He observed “with concern the situation in Ukraine and the reactions of our neighbors in Germany in view of the threat from Russia”. Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks criticized that Germany’s policy towards Russia “in no way meets” the requirements of NATO and the EU.

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