As tensions between Russia, Ukraine, the U.S. and NATO continue, it is affecting the Mediterranean world as well as Europe’s energy sector.
The U.S. is pulling its support for an Israeli underground natural gas pipeline that would run from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe. Many are predicting this will simply cause more problems in the region.
Moreover, this decision from the Biden administration undercuts Israel, one of America’s most steadfast allies.
The Trump administration supported the EastMed Pipeline, but the Biden administration has environmental and economic concerns about the project, Reuters reported.
The proposed pipeline would have given Europe an alternative to its heavy dependence on Russian gas. It would have conveyed about 10 billion cubic yards of Israeli and Cypriot natural gas to Europe via Greece and Italy each year, according to The Hill.
Recently, Europe has been suffering from an energy crisis, which has led to soaring natural gas and electricity prices. Since Russia is Europe’s main supplier, the current geopolitical tensions with Ukraine and the U.S. have given Moscow the ability to further spike prices.
Now, the Biden administration has effectively ended all hopes for the EastMed Pipeline.
Analyst Ariel Cohen called this a “strategic mistake.”
“This is a disastrous decision that imperils European security and opens the door for further Russian energy hegemony in European gas markets,” Cohen wrote for The Hill. “It should be reversed.”
While the U.S. cited economic and environmental concerns in its opposition to the pipeline, Israeli outlet Haaretz pointed to the Biden administration’s fear of Russia as the real heart of the issue.
“A pipeline that will bring Israeli gas to Europe could anger Russian President Vladimir Putin, who would lose some of his customers. Even though the amount of gas that Israel could supply to Europe is minuscule compared to the needs of countries on the continent, a project of this nature would influence the arm-wrestling between Moscow and Washington,” Haaretz reported.
Some are accusing Biden of trying to appease Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as well as Putin.
Erdoğan has always maintained that Israel should have to sell its gas to Europe through Turkey, according to the Gatestone Institute. The EastMed Pipeline would have bypassed Turkey.
“The Americans do not want the pipeline because Ankara might get angry,” said Theofrastos Andreopoulos, a defense analyst.
Meanwhile, Russia is interested in dominating the European energy market.
Democratic lawmakers have actually supported Nord Stream 2, a Russian gas pipeline to Europe, and stopped Republicans from imposing sanctions that would have hurt it.
For this, Republicans have condemned Democrats and the Biden administration.
“The reversal on the EastMed pipeline becomes only more hypocritical and offensive given the fact that President Biden continues to clear the path towards completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline,” GOP Reps. Gus Bilirakis of Florida and Nicole Malliotakis of New York wrote in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The Biden administration’s decision to kill the Israeli pipeline, which would have countered Russia’s energy dominance in Europe, will simply make security issues in the region worse — at the worst possible time.
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