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US House of Representatives approves bill on countering Russia’s energy influence

The bill must be passed by the Senate and then be signed by the President to become law

WASHINGTON, March 26. /TASS/. The House of Representatives of the US Congress voted on Monday for the bill on assisting Central and Eastern European countries to diversify energy supplies sources for countering Russia’s influence, with 391 and 24 congressmen voting for and against the bill, respectively. A live broadcast of the voting was provided by the C-SPAN TV channel.

The bill must be passed by the Senate and then be signed by the President to become law.

The authors of the draft law suggest that it is necessary for the US to assist "Central and Eastern European countries to reduce their dependence on energy resources from countries that use energy dependence for undue political influence, such as the Russian Federation, which has used natural gas to coerce, intimidate, and influence other countries."

The Department of State and related agencies should support "the efforts of the European Commission and the governments of Central and Eastern European countries to increase their energy security," according to the text of the bill. That envisions, one the one hand, providing "diplomatic and political support," and on the other hand - financial support to particular energy projects. It is suggested that related agencies will be "authorized to obligate and expend not more than $1,000,000,000 to support private sector investment in projects that diversify the energy sources and energy transport capabilities of Central and Eastern European countries and to improve energy market integration in those countries." Moreover, $5 mln will be earmarked for the US Trade and Development Agency to employ additional personnel to provide such assistance.

US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said earlier at the CERAWeek conference in Houston that Washington does not want its European allies to be hooked on Russian gas following the construction of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline. He added that the US is going to help its friends secure diversity for their energy resources. Pompeo also emphasized the role of private companies in boosting US exports of liquefied natural gas to Poland.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline is set to run from the Russian coast along the Baltic Sea bed to the German shore. Each of the pipeline’s two stretches will have a capacity of 27.5 bln cubic meters. The total cost of the project has been estimated at 9.5 bln euro. The pipeline is expected to come into service at the end of this year.