The United States plans to provide up to US$1 billion to countries in Central and Eastern Europe to help them reduce their dependence on Russian oil and gas, as Washington?

The United States plans to provide up to US$1 billion to countries in Central and Eastern Europe to help them reduce their dependence on Russian oil and gas, as Washington also aims to prevent the completion of the Russia-led Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. ?

?And as a brand new statement today of our support for sovereignty, prosperity, and energy independence of our European friends, today I want to announce that through the International Development Finance Corporation, and with the support of our United States Congress, we intend to provide up to $1 billion in financing to Central and Eastern European countries of the Three Seas Initiative. Our aim is quite simple: It is to galvanize private sector investment in the energy sector to protect freedom and democracy around the world,? U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at the Munich Security Conference in Germany last week.

Poland and the Baltic states, which oppose Nord Stream 2 and are trying to wean themselves off Russian energy dependence, will get funds, among others, according to German business daily Handelsblatt.

While the U.S. intends to help promote private investment in central and eastern Europe's energy sector, it aims at the same time to stifle the Nord Stream 2 project, arguing that it would give Russia even bigger, and politically charged, leverage over its European gas customers.

The U.S. Senate passed in December a massive defense bill that includes slapping sanctions on companies helping Russia's gas giant Gazprom to complete the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project. ?

The U.S. sanctions on the project have divided Europe, with Germany criticizing the U.S. interference in Europe's energy policies and projects.

Following the announcement of the sanctions, Switzerland-based offshore pipelay and subsea construction company Allseas immediately suspended Nord Stream 2 pipelay activities.

Russian officials claim that Russian firms can complete the project without the help of foreign partners, while U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette told Bloomberg in an interview during the weekend that Russian firms would not be able to complete the project in the Baltic Sea because they lack the technology to do it. ?

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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