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US, EU support Ukraine’s energy security, condemn Russia’s weaponization of energy

Ukrainian nuclear power plants have reached record power generation amid Russian energy war
The image shows the Rivne nuclear power plant.
US, EU support Ukraine’s energy security, condemn Russia’s weaponization of energy
A statement by the US-EU Energy Council, a leading forum to guide bilateral energy cooperation, stressed the importance of bolstering energy security in the EU and Ukraine and slammed Russia’s use of energy as a geopolitical weapon.

On 7 February, the ninth meeting of the US-EU Energy Council concluded with the release of a joint statement on behalf of the US Government and the European Union. The meeting was chaired by US State Secretary Antony Blinken with EU High Representative Josep Borrell Fontelles, and by top energy officials, US Energy Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm and European Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson.

According to the statement, the Council discussed the urgency for action to address the gas supply situation in Europe and to ensure gas supply to Ukraine. The Council stressed the importance of bolstering energy security in the EU and its neighborhood, “including in Ukraine and the Western Balkans,” and energy cooperation in research that supports global efforts towards “achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.”

In her Facebook post, former Ukrainian deputy foreign minister Lana Zerkal, who also was an advisor to the Ukrainian energy company Naftogaz and is an advisor to the Ukrainian energy ministry, gives a Ukrainian perspective on the EU-US joint statement and explains what it means for Ukraine. Here’s what Ms. Zerkal said.

Ukrainian Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Lana Zerkal during a session of the United Nations International Court examining litigation against Russia. The Hague, 6 March 2017.

“In recent months, we have built a fragile but much-needed Trans-Atlantic unity in support of our energy integration processes. Therefore, today we can say that it is not only aid in missiles because Ukraine’s allies also support us on the energy front, where Russia’s aggression is no less dangerous. And it’s not just about Nord Stream 2 (Russia’s pipeline that would render Ukraine’s gas transport system unnecessary for Russian gas supplies to the EU, – Ed).

Russia has been trying to make the most of the energy crisis in order to stir up and intimidate the European continent. The Kremlin’s pressure is already having the opposite effect as the EU and the US don’t succumb to blackmail. On the contrary, they are forming a strong response. And we (Ukraine, – Ed.) are full members of the coalition here.

The joint statement released on 7 February by the US-EU Energy Council mentions critical things necessary for the security of both Ukraine and the European continent:

  • the need to ensure alternative gas supplies to Europe, not forgetting about Ukraine and Moldova (the Council supports enhancing the resilience and energy security of Moldova and Ukraine, including through reverse gas flows, – Ed.);
  • strong condemnation of the use of “energy supply as a weapon or geopolitical lever is another reminder to Russia of the price to be paid for its energy blackmail of the European Union;
  • a clear political statement reaffirming Ukraine’s status as “a key partner of both the EU and the United State and the importance of maintaining its energy security. As well as recognition of the importance of the transit potential of our state for the security of the continent;
  • the statement also clearly states support for the synchronization of the Ukrainian electricity network with the European ENTSO-E system. At the end of February, the Ukrainian system will be disconnected from the network with Russia and Belarus as part of a several-day experiment, and such a statement is a strong message of support needed right now.

It was not without “homework” for Ukraine. Shared security means not only the help of allies but also Ukraine’s own efforts. The recipe offered to Ukraine is simple:

  • continuing energy reforms,
  • strengthening the independence of regulators,
  • creating truly independent supervisory boards.

All of this isn’t something necessary for Europe and America, but what Ukraine needs in order to successfully defend itself against Kremlin pressure.

“The Council reaffirmed the need for transparent, robust, and independent institutions in Ukraine’s energy sector […] It highlighted that strong corporate governance and supervisory board autonomy without political interference are fundamental components to national energy security. As we are moving towards Ukraine’s integration with the European energy market, we will aim at strengthening corporate governance and supervisory board autonomy in Ukraine. The Council also emphasized its support for speedy energy sector reforms,” the statement reads.

And Ukraine’s choice is also simple: since we aren’t ready to surrender to Russia, we need to work with allies and follow a common plan.”

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