NATO urges Europe to diversify energy supply amid standoff with Russia

Concerned about Europe’s energy vulnerability, the NATO chief said on Sunday that the continent needed to diversify its energy supplies. Britain has warned it is “highly likely” that Russia, a major natural gas supplier, wants to invade Ukraine.

Russia has massed some 120,000 troops near its neighbor and demanded that the Western defense alliance withdraw its troops and weapons from Eastern Europe and prevent Ukraine, a former Soviet state, from joining the western defense alliance.

US officials said Saturday that Russia’s military buildup had been expanded to include supplies to treat victims of any conflict. Across the Ukrainian border, residents trained as army reservists as the government rushed to prepare.

Moscow denies any invasion plans but said on Sunday it would ask NATO to clarify whether it intended to implement key security commitments after earlier saying the alliance’s response to his demands did not go far enough.

“If they don’t intend to, then they should explain why,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told state television. “This will be a key question in determining our future proposals.”

The United States said it was awaiting a response from Russia. He says NATO will not withdraw from Eastern Europe or exclude Ukraine, but he is ready to discuss topics such as arms control and confidence-building measures.

Washington has spent weeks drafting an agreement with European partners on a set of tough sanctions if Russia attacks Ukraine. But the issue is divisive, with Germany urging “caution”.

The EU depends on Russia for around a third of its gas supplies and any interruption would worsen an existing energy crisis caused by a shortage.

“We are concerned about the energy situation in Europe as it demonstrates the vulnerability of being too dependent on a single supplier of natural gas and that is why NATO allies agree that we need to work and focus on supply diversification,” said the NATO Secretary General. says Jens Stoltenburg.

Sanction plans

Britain said on Sunday it would expand the scope of its own possible sanctions in legislation this week to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“We believe it is very likely that he will seek to invade Ukraine. That is why we are doing everything we can through deterrence and diplomacy to urge him to desist,” the foreign affairs minister said. foreign Liz Truss at the BBC.

Truss, who is due to travel to both Ukraine and Russia in the next two weeks, told Sky News the legislation would allow Britain to hit a wider variety of targets “so no one can think that ‘He will be safe from these penalties.’

Asked if the new powers could include the ability to seize property in London, Truss said: ‘Nothing is off the table.

The Center for American Progress, an American think tank, said Britain would face a challenge in uprooting wealthy Russians linked to the London Kremlin given the close ties “between Russian money and the Conservative Party in power in the United Kingdom, the press and its real estate and financial assets”. industry.”

Asked about it, Truss said: “There is a real threat here to freedom and democracy in Europe. And that is more important than short-term economic gains, both for the UK but also for our European allies.”

A White House official said the Biden administration plans to spare ordinary Russians the brunt of US export controls if Russia invades Ukraine and focuses on targeting industrial sectors. Earlier, a senior trade official said ‘key people’ would face ‘massive penalties’.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to speak with Putin by phone next week. Stepping up diplomatic efforts after being criticized for not doing enough, he said he had ordered the military to prepare to help reinforce Europe’s borders.

Stoltenburg said NATO had no plans to deploy combat troops to non-NATO Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion, adding, “We are focused on support.”

Johnson said on Sunday that the photo at the Ukraine-Russia border was “increasingly concerning.”

“I continue to urge Russia to engage in negotiations and avoid a reckless and catastrophic invasion,” he said on Twitter.

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