WASHINGTON: Russian President Vladimir Putin is “weaponising” its energy resources, the White House has alleged, a day after he threatened to cut off all energy exports to the West if the US proceeded with its oil price cap.
Putin on Wednesday threatened to completely cut energy supplies to the West if it tries to cap prices of Russian exports. He also vowed to press on with Moscow’s military action in Ukraine until it achieves its goals.
“This shows that Putin is, again, weaponising energy, by his very words, also by his actions. But the President (Joe Biden) and our partners in Europe predicted this playbook. We saw this coming, and we have been preparing for months. We have talked through the different processes of how this price cap could look,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Wednesday during her daily news conference.
Finance ministers from the G7 last week pledged to put in place a system designed to cap Russia’s income from oil sales that it could use to further its war in Ukraine.
The move by the seven most industrialised nations also aimed at limiting the impact of the Ukraine war on soaring global energy prices.
The US and European Union, she said, have set up a task force to work on ways to increase alternate sources of natural gas to Europe and help reduce Europe’s demand for Russian energy through increased efficiency and clean energy deployment.
“That is something that we’re going to continue to do to be helpful to Europe as they head into the winter months. But this process of the task force already has had a positive effect as we’ve seen. Europe’s gas shortage will be full by the critical winter heating season. Germany will reach their target gas storage, despite the Russian cuts, ahead of schedule. And Europe as a whole will reach a significantly higher level than last year,” she said.
“We prepared for this. We knew this was going to be part of the playbook, in Russia weaponising energy as they have been for the past several months, and so we will be prepared for this move,” said the press secretary.
Meanwhile, at a different press briefing, State Department’s Deputy Press Secretary Vedant Patel told reporters that the Black Sea Grain Initiative is a humanitarian arrangement to bring desperately needed food to the world’s hungry populations.
“The US did not offer nor did it provide any sanctions relief in exchange for Russia’s participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative. As a matter of fact, US sanctions have always had clear exemptions for food and fertiliser, and our sanctions have never targeted humanitarian assistance,” he clarified.
“We want to see food and fertiliser reach global markets. And Russia must continue to live up to its commitments through the Black Grain Sea Initiative. And some of these other allegations that we’ve seen that, one, global food prices are rising, just aren’t the case. In fact, global food prices have fallen as a result of the Black Sea Port arrangement,” he said.