IRONY OF IRONIES: US military bases in Europe rely on Russian energy

The reality of the situation has angered US lawmakers, upset that US military resources exist under Russian soil


US lawmakers are urging the US Department of Defense to reduce dependence on Russian energy on military bases in Europe and to impose sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 project.

Data from the Defense Logistics Agency show that about 40% of the oil used in military installations in Germany comes from Russia. In southwestern Germany, for example, Ramstein Air Force Base serves as the headquarters of the US Air Forces in Europe and is also a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) facility.

US bases need power supplies to ensure reliable electricity and other energy supplies in the event of a power outage, or if the power supply is compromised, said Constance Douris, vice president of the Lexington Institute.

Backup can come from microstrips capable of operating outside the main grid, from bulk storage, and even from electric vehicles (VEs) whose batteries can be used to power homes, Douris argued.

Backup solutions for US military bases are imperative in the face of Russia’s growing energy supply to Europe, she said.

Russian gas giant Gazprom, for example, has increased its exports to Europe and its gas sales in the first half of this year exceeded 100 bcm for the first time – at 101.2 bcm, they were 5.8% higher than exports in the first half of 2017, the company said.

Then there is the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, led by Gazprom, which is opposed by institutions in the European Union (EU) and some EU member states, not to mention US lawmakers.

Earlier this year, Washington began to suggest possible sanctions against the project.

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In mid-July, US Senator John Barrasso introduced legislation “to give NATO members an escape from coercion and political manipulation of Russia.”

The Energy Security Cooperation Act with Associated Partners in Europe, or the ESCAPE Act, authorizes mandatory US sanctions on the development of Russian pipeline projects, such as Nord Stream 2.

Last week, a group of bipartisan senators, in a letter led by Pat Toomey (Republican) and Bob Casey (Democrat), urged the US Department of Defense to buy less energy from Russia.

“US military bases in Europe currently use significant amounts of Russian energy, making them vulnerable to intentional supply disruptions by the Russian government. Trust also reduces US efforts to reassure allies and deter Russian aggression in Europe,” say Senators Toomey, Casey and the 11 other senators who signed the letter.

“We anticipate that the Russian Federation will continue to use energy – electricity, natural gas, oil and refined petroleum products – as a political weapon in Europe. Therefore, the United States must prepare to complete its various missions and stop any threats to our forces or allies, regardless of, or in opposition to, hostile Russian actions,” the senators said.

According to Douris, microstrips, storage systems and VEs could help American bases secure a backup power supply. The Nissan LEAF, for example, has a system that allows users to stock their home with the energy stored in the Nissan LEAF battery.

As Russia expands its energy reach to Europe, there are increasing calls in the United States for the country’s Armed Forces to consider alternative supply of electricity and power supplies.

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