West raises heat on Russia

April 02, 2014 09:16 pm | Updated May 21, 2016 07:47 am IST - Moscow

In an effort to raise the heat on Russia, NATO decided to freeze bilateral cooperation, while the European Union promised to help Ukraine reduce its energy dependence on Russia.

"We are suspending all practical cooperation with Russia, military and civilian," said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

"Through its actions [in Ukraine], Russia has undermined the principles on which our partnership is built, and has breached its own international commitments. So we cannot go on doing business as usual," the NATO chief told a two-day meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers in Brussels that closed on Wednesday.

However "business as usual" with Russia will continue on Afghanistan and drug control, the NATO chief said.

Mr. Rasmussen explained that "Afghanistan-related cooperation projects"would continue "because we have a joint interest in ensuring the success of our mission in Afghanistan."

In a joint statement, the NATO Foreign Ministers said political dialogue in the NATO-Russia Council could continue, "as necessary, at the ambassadorial level and above, to allow us to exchange views, first and foremost on this crisis."

NATO announced it would intensify cooperation with Ukraine through training and other programs.

Mr. Rasmussen told reporters the ministers agreed to help Ukraine make its military "more professional and more effective" by provide advice and possibly deploying "mobile training teams" in Ukraine.

The crisis in Ukraine also dominated an energy summit between the European Union and the United States in Brussels on Wednesday.

"Developments in Ukraine have brought energy security concerns to the fore and prove the need to reinforce energy security in Europe," said a joint statement issued by the E.U.-U.S. Energy Council.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who co-chairs the E.U.-U.S. Energy Council, said Europe and the United States are working together to reduce Ukraine’s reliance on Russian energy by developing alternative sources for natural gas.

"We're working in lockstep to help Ukraine bring natural gas in from Poland and Hungary and develop a route through Slovakia," Mr. Kerry said.

Mr. Kerry said the U.S. and E.U. would seek to provide Ukraine with gas through Poland, Hungary and Slovakia.

However, Ukraine will have to pay more for such gas supplies, because it will still be Russian gas delivered to Europe by pipe across the Baltic Sea. The average price of Russian gas in Europe is $380 per 1,000 cubic metres, which is only marginally less than the $385,5 per 1,000 cubic metres Ukraine pays to Russia after it scrapped on Tuesday a 30-percent discount to Ukraine because of its piling debts for earlier supplies.

Mr. Kerry also insisted the E.U. should reduce its energy dependence on Russia, saying that the United States also hopes to export more LNG gas in the future.

Meanwhile, experts said natural gas prices in Europe would double if it replaces all Russian supplies with LNG shipments.

According to Energy Aspects Ltd. in London, benchmark prices in Britain would need to rise 127 percent to attract liquefied natural gas.

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