U.S. working to cut NATO Europe's reliance on Russian oil and gas

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Nord Stream 2 pipeline
Nord Stream 2 pipeline JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it is working with international partners to ensure NATO allies in Europe would not be crippled if Russia cut off natural gas shipments, The New York Times reported.

According to the Times, the U.S. is working with "gas and crude oil suppliers from the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia," but the unnamed administration official who shared this information was unable to provide the names of specific countries.

The European Union, which consists mostly of NATO member states, gets about one-third of its natural gas and crude oil imports from Russia.

In 2019, petroleum products and natural gas combined accounted for over 58 percent of the EU's energy use, according to EU data.

Fossil fuels account for over half of Russian exports, and four of the five largest importers of Russian exports are NATO members.

A shutoff would also harm Russia. According to a Russian study cited by one oil industry publication, oil and gas made up 15 percent of the Russian economy in 2020.

The administration official said any Russian attempt to withhold energy from Europe "wouldn't be without consequences to the Russian economy" because Russia "needs oil and gas revenues at least as much as Europe needs its energy supply."

With U.S. help to — as the unnamed official put it — "ensure alternative supplies covering a significant majority of the potential shortfall," European NATO members could be confident that they would emerge victorious from an energy standoff with Russia.

That confidence, the Biden administration hopes, will embolden those allies to impose and stick to tough sanctions against Russia in the event of an invasion of Ukraine.

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