If Russia Cuts Gas Supply to Europe, US and Allies Pledge to Boost Supply

While the United States warns that Russia is likely to invade Ukraine imminently, there is a parallel chess game of provocation and deterrence.

Russia could reduce or cut off oil and gas supplies to Europe in the event of a military conflict. US diplomatic sources said on Tuesday that the United States was working with its allies to ensure that Europe has a backup fuel supply in this event.

The heaters are on in wintry Northern Europe; the continent has increased its use of renewable energy, but it is still heavily dependent on Russian fuel.

“Gazprom itself – Russia’s gas pipeline monopoly – supplies around 35% of Europe’s natural gas consumption,” said Jeffrey Schott, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

He said it gives Vladimir Putin a powerful weapon – but one he may be hesitant to use.

“The Russians could certainly shut off the gas, but that would cost them a significant chunk of export revenue,” Schott said.

And the United States is trying to mitigate any potential impact, according to Kenneth Medlock of Rice University’s Center for Energy Studies:

“The White House is already talking about redirecting cargo to Europe, we’ve had conversations with the Qataris – not just US suppliers but global suppliers,” he said.

But if Russia completely cut off European supplies, the United States and its allies would find it difficult to meet all of Europe’s needs immediately.

Mary I. Bruner