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US official: Russia shouldn’t be permitted to use energy as weapon

Former Texas Gov. and current U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, right, attends a dinner hosted by President Donald Trump with past and present governors to talk about border security in the Blue Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., on May 21, 2017. (Mark Wilson/Sipa USA/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Russia has historically used energy as a weapon and that continues today, making energy diversification crucial for Central and Eastern Europe, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry has said.

“We should no longer allow the Kremlin to use energy as a weapon,” Perry told a news conference in Hungary’s capital, Budapest, on November 13.

Perry was speaking during a visit to the region as the administration of President Donald Trump seeks to encourage the purchase of gas from the United States or other suppliers rather than increasing purchases from Russia.

He called on Hungary and its neighbors to reject Russian gas pipelines, which Washington says are being used to cement Moscow’s grip on the region.

“Russia is using a pipeline project, Nord Stream 2, and the multiline Turkish stream [TurkStream project], to try to solidify its control over the security and the stability of Central and Eastern Europe,” Perry said.

“The United States strongly opposes these projects, and we urge Hungary and its neighbors to join us in rejecting them.”

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said Turkish stream, a pipeline under construction from Russia to Turkey, was beneficial to Hungary, since one of its branches would bring gas to Hungary’s southern border via a new route.

Hungary depends heavily on Russia for its natural-gas supplies, which now mostly transit via Ukraine. Russia is also building a nuclear plant in Hungary.

Budapest would be willing to buy gas from Croatia, which is building a liquefied-gas terminal, and from Romania, Szijjarto said.