Blinken warns Europe against Putin bullying over energy

Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned on Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin thinks he can use his energy to ‘induce’ Europe not to support Ukraine and urged the United States’ European allies to ‘stand together’ in the face of Russian aggression.

Blinken told a NATO press conference in Brussels that Putin has “armed energy against European countries that resist his aggression, increasing costs for families, businesses, entire nations.”

“President Putin is betting that these actions will break the will of countries to stand with Ukraine. He bets the Kremlin can bully other countries into submission,” Blinken said. “He’s already lost that bet.”

Russia’s state-owned energy company Gazprom halted natural gas exports to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline after the Group of Seven agreed last week to cap Russian oil prices.

Despite earlier efforts to reduce its dependence on Russian energy, Europe “will still likely pay a price” for its support for Ukraine this winter, according to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Blinken said the United States hoped to ease that burden.

“The United States is doing everything in its power to support people around the world who are bearing the greatest cost of Russian aggression,” Blinken said. “We will not leave our European friends out in the cold.”

He also noted that this represents an opportunity to move away from dependence on Russian energy “once and for all” and switch to renewable sources.

“We can – we will – come out stronger and in a better place,” Blinken said.

The NATO press conference came a day after Blinken made a surprise visit to Kyiv and announced that the United States would provide more than $2 billion in new aid to Ukraine and other countries. other European countries threatened by Russia.

Mary I. Bruner