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Biden warns EU against Russian gas dependency

August 25, 2016

He cautioned the EU against going ahead with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. No country should use energy as a weapon, Biden said referring to past episodes of Moscow cutting off gas supplies in winter.

German and Russian officials turnt he spigot to begin the flow of gas through the Nord Stream pipeline.
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Sauer

US Vice President Joe Biden warned European countries against becoming too dependent on Russian oil and gas, saying it would be "bad" for Europe.

Biden was specifically referring to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline which is supposed to deliver natural gas from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea. He called it "a fundamentally bad deal for Europe," adding that "Europe needs diverse sources of natural gas, not, in our view, a Nord Stream 2 pipeline."

He made his comments after meeting with Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven in Stockholm.

A few years ago, a 1,200-kilometer (745 mile) underwater pipeline went online to transport natural gas from Russia to Germany. Nord Stream, a Russian-German joint venture, operates the pipeline.

Over-dependence on Russian energy would also be bad for Ukraine, the vice president said. Ukraine is currently fighting a Kremlin-backed separatist movement in the east of the country.

Today sees the official launch of the construction work on the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline

"To lock in great reliance on Russia will fundamentally destabilize Ukraine," Biden said.

Gas supplies cut in winter

Without mentioning Russia by name, the US vice president noted that Moscow has on several occasions cut off gas supplies to Ukraine - during the winter - amid various disputes.

"No country should be able to use energy as a weapon," Biden said, "to coerce policies from other nations."

European Union states imported 53 percent of their energy as recently as in 2014. Russia provides one-third of the EU's gas, and some newer eastern member states are almost entirely reliant on Moscow for energy.

Work on the Nord Stream pipeline starts

The EU is trying to reduce its dependence on Russian gas.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, has said the Nord Stream 2 pipeline risks concentrating 80 percent of the EU's Russian gas imports in one route. The EC is now investigating whether the project meets European laws.

Biden noted that all EU countries could now access US liquefied natural gas if they want it, and added, the energy market "needs to be open and competitive, and everyone has to play by the rules."

bik/jil (AFP, dpa)