- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 11, 2018

Aiming to break Russia’s “energy stranglehold on Europe” and the Kremlin propaganda efforts it fuels, a bipartisan group of senators has introduced a proposal to fund $1 billion worth of energy projects across the continent.

Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, Ron Johnson, Wisconsin Republican, and the panel’s top Democrat, Chris Murphy, Connecticut, have introduced the European Energy Security and Diversification Act to provide “new tools for the United States to combat malign Russian influence and create economic opportunities at home and abroad,” according to a subcommittee statement.

Russia is the largest exporter of oil and natural gas to the European Union. Recent years have seen it accused of using energy pipeline shutdowns to intimidate and blackmail governments that the Kremlin targets in disputes.

In a bid to diversify its energy sources. EU officials have also investigated the Russian state-owned energy company, Gazprom, for stifling competition in Central and Eastern European.

Russia uses its dominance of the energy market, along with bribery, corruption and propaganda to undermine Western institutions and install pliant governments that are unable or unwilling to counter Russia or its president, Vladimir Putin,” the subcommittee said on Wednesday.

The legislation authorizes $1 billion for U.S. financing of “strategically important energy projects in Central and Eastern Europe” as well as diplomatic, technical and financial support from the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) and other agencies from fiscal year 2019 to 2023.

“Vladimir Putin gets away with a lot because so much of Europe relies on Russia for energy,” Mr. Murphy said in a release. “By helping our allies secure new sources of energy and contributing to strategically important projects, we can help break Putin’s grip on Europe and create jobs here in the U.S.”

Russia has the means to coerce political behavior in nations that are dependent upon its energy,” Mr. Johnson added. “This bill authorizes the USTDA and other agencies to support U.S. private sector investment in strategically important energy projects in Central and Eastern Europe.”

Projects that could benefit from the proposal include natural gas infrastructure such as interconnectors, storage facilities and liquefied natural gas (LNG) import facilities.

Corrected from earlier to fix misattributed quote.


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