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European Energy Security in the U.S. Elections

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Adrian Karatnycky of Orange Circle argues in the Washington Post that the US election could help bring forward European energy security as a potential side issue in some states. It’s a pity that the United States seems more concerned with Europe’s independence than member states themselves. WaPo: Escaping Putin’s Energy Squeeze

While capable U.S diplomats are trying to advance European energy diversification projects, these vital initiatives are being addressed primarily by deputy assistant secretaries of state and mid-level National Security Council staff. By contrast, when the Clinton administration sought to promote energy diversification through the now-completed Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, that key initiative was spearheaded at the highest levels, by Stuart Eizenstat, then undersecretary of state and later deputy Treasury secretary. There are two reasons for optimism on this matter. One is the diplomacy of the presidents of Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania and the increased interest of energy-rich Azerbaijan in reducing Europe’s dependence on Russia. The second is the U.S. presidential campaign. With the next election likely to be decided in states such as Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania, where millions of Polish, Ukrainian and Baltic Americans reside, the issue of a focused energy security policy for “Old” and “New” Europe is likely to get some attention. It’s not likely to be a major factor in the campaign, but as with NATO expansion into Central Europe in the 1992 election, it’s a potential “side” issue that could resonate among tens of thousands of voters in states where such numbers might represent the margin of victory.