Biden visits Poland as he announces new plan to wean Europe off Russian energy

Speaking in Brussels alongside European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Biden said Russia was using its oil and gas supplies to “coerce and manipulate its neighbours”. He said the United States would help Europe reduce its dependence on Russian oil and gas and ensure the continent has enough supplies for the next two winters. The announcement came just before Biden left Brussels for Poland.

“It’s going to take some time to adjust the gas supply chains and the infrastructure that (have been) built over the last decade, so we’re going to have to make sure that families in Europe can get through this winter and the next. as we build infrastructure for a diverse, resilient and clean energy future, Biden said.

Biden and von der Leyen announced a joint task force to help wean Europe off its dependence on Russian oil and gas. The panel, chaired by representatives of the White House and the European Commission, will aim to find alternative sources of liquefied natural gas supply and reduce the overall demand for natural gas in the future.

Europe’s dependence on Russian gas and oil has proven to be a major sticking point in Western efforts to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine. While the United States has banned Russian energy imports, Europe has found it much more difficult to cut off its supplies.

“I know that eliminating Russian gas will have costs for Europe, but it’s not only the right thing to do from a moral standpoint, it’s going to put us on a much stronger strategic footing.” , did he declare.

The United States will strive to supply Europe with at least 15 billion cubic meters of liquefied natural gas in 2022, in partnership with other nations, the White House said. The group will also strive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing methane emissions and using clean energy to power operations.

Senior administration officials said the 15 billion cubic meters of liquefied natural gas comes from multiple sources, including the United States and countries in Asia. But officials had no exact breakdown on where the gas came from. Friday’s announcement was the culmination of a US effort over the past few months to identify alternative energy sources for Europe, particularly in Asia. Officials said these efforts would continue throughout this year to achieve the goal.

One official said that weaning Europe off Russian energy is like “replacing an unreliable LNG supplier with a much more reliable supplier in the United States”.

“This crisis also presents an opportunity. It’s a catalyst,” Biden said. “A catalyst that will spur the investments we need to double our clean energy goals and accelerate progress toward our zero-net emissions future.”

Biden set to visit Poland

The announcement came during the president’s last stop in Brussels before his trip to Poland on Friday, his second stop on a last-minute trip across Europe aimed at coordinating the West’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Upon arrival at Rzeszów-Jasionka Airport, Biden will be greeted by Polish President Andrzej Duda and given a briefing on the humanitarian response to the war. He will meet soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division in Rzeszów before heading to Warsaw in the evening.

On Saturday, the White House said Biden will hold a bilateral meeting with Duda to discuss how the United States and its allies are responding to the post-war refugee crisis. He will also deliver remarks before returning to Washington.

Biden’s trip to Poland comes after meetings Thursday in Brussels, where he attended a series of emergency summits, announced new actions – such as sanctions against hundreds of Russian parliament members and a pledge to admit 100 000 refugees fleeing Ukraine – and spoke with world leaders about how the world will react if Russia deploys a chemical, biological or nuclear weapon.

The White House said the visit to Poland was intended to highlight the massive refugee crisis that has ensued since Russia’s war in Ukraine began a month ago.

The president confirmed on Thursday that he hoped to meet Ukrainian refugees while in Poland. It is unclear, however, when or where these potential meetings would take place.

More than 3.5 million refugees have now fled Ukraine, according to data from the UN refugee agency released on Tuesday. A large majority of these refugees have fled to Ukraine’s western neighbors across Europe.

Poland, which borders Ukraine to the west, has registered more than 2 million Ukrainian refugees entering the country. However, the number of refugees staying in Poland is lower, with many continuing their journey to other countries.

Earlier this month, during Vice President Kamala Harris’ trip to Poland, Duda personally asked the Vice President to speed up and simplify procedures for Ukrainians with family in the United States to come to the country. He also warned Harris that his country’s resources were being stretched by the influx of refugees, even as Poland welcomed them with open arms.

The White House says that since February 24, the United States has provided more than $123 million to help countries neighboring Ukraine and the European Union deal with the influx of refugees, including 48 million dollars in Poland.

At a press conference on Thursday, Biden told reporters he didn’t think having direct insight into Poland’s refugee crisis would necessarily change his response.

“What he will do is he will reinforce my commitment to the United States making sure that we are a major part in managing the relocation of all these people, as well as the humanitarian assistance necessary both inside and outside Ukraine,” the president said.

Biden said he has visited war zones, saying he understands the plight of refugees.

“I’ve been in refugee camps. I’ve been in war zones for the last 15 years. And it’s – it’s devastating,” he said.

Biden also said the influx of refugees is “not something Poland, Romania or Germany should handle on their own.”

“This is an international responsibility. And the United States, as … one of the leaders of the international community, has an obligation to engage – to engage and do everything whatever is in their power to alleviate the suffering and pain of innocent women and children, and men, for that matter, throughout Ukraine and those who have crossed the border,” Biden continued.

The trip to Poland also comes two weeks after the United States rejected Polish proposals to facilitate the transfer of its MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine.

The United States has rejected Poland’s proposals for fear that the United States and NATO will be seen as stepping forward, further fomenting conflict between the alliance and Russia – which adamantly opposes the Ukraine’s ambitions to join the NATO alliance.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly called for more planes for the invasion, making a fresh appeal to NATO leaders on Thursday.

During a virtual address on Thursday, Zelensky asked NATO members for “1% of all your planes”, later adding: “You have thousands of fighter jets, but we haven’t received any yet. .”

Despite Zelensky’s appeal, a senior US official told CNN on Thursday that the US position on the fighter jet issue has not changed.

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.

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