Three years ago, Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, and Greece created the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum to cooperate in the export of their offshore fossil-fuel reserves. They planned eventually to build an undersea pipeline that would bring the gas to Bulgaria and Italy, from which it could be transported to the rest of Europe. Shoshana Bryen explains why, despite legislative support from the U.S. Congress, Washington has stopped supporting the project, which is now stalled:
Amos Hochstein, now President Biden’s senior advisor for energy security, has said he would be “extremely uncomfortable with the U.S. supporting” East Med because of its environmental implications. “Why would we build a fossil-fuel pipeline between the East Med and Europe when our entire policy is to support new technology . . . and new investments in going green and in going clean?” Hochstein said, as reported in the Jerusalem Post. “By the time this pipeline is built we will have spent billions of taxpayer money on something that is obsolete—not only obsolete but against our collective interest.”
As a foreign-policy matter, Turkey and Russia heavily disapproved of the entire East Med project, which did not include either of them. Although Israel has said more than once that Turkey should be included in the consortium, Ankara has adamantly declined because it claims part of the energy resources of Cyprus as its own. Russia, for its part, would be happy to scuttle the pipeline to ensure its monopoly in Europe.
Russia already has enormous leverage. It is January and it is cold. Europeans are now facing shortages of natural gas, as Russia reduced its exports to Europe by more than 41 percent from the level of January 2021. It’s not that Russia can’t deliver more; it just chooses not to. . . . The final foreign-policy element in the East Med story is the Russia-U.S.-NATO standoff over Russian threats to Ukraine.
In particular, Germany, dependent on Russia for energy sources, has been reluctant to support providing NATO assistance to defend Ukraine or to shore up the defenses of Poland and the Baltic states.