Sources say the US move comes after Russia, the EU’s biggest energy supplier, massed troops on the Ukrainian border.
US officials are in talks with Qatar on supplying European countries with liquefied natural gas (LNG) in case a Russian invasion of Ukraine leads to shortages on the continent, according to reports.
Two people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that President Joe Biden plans to ask the emir of the Gulf state, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, to come to the White House, possibly as soon as the end of the month. He added that the meeting between Biden and Sheikh Tamim has been ongoing for some time.
The United States fears Russia is preparing for the possibility of another military assault on the country it partially invaded in 2014, while Moscow denies plans to attack Ukraine.
The European Union depends on Russia for about a third of its gas supplies, and US sanctions in the event of a conflict could disrupt this supply.
Any disruption in Russia’s gas supply to Europe would exacerbate an energy crisis caused by a fuel shortage.
The State Department’s talks with energy companies were led by senior energy security adviser Amos Hochstein, a senior US State Department official told Reuters news agency, speaking under cover of a statement. ‘anonymity.
“The United States has promised to support Europe in the event of an energy shortage due to conflict or sanctions,” another source told the agency.
“Amos is going to see big LNG companies and countries like Qatar to see if they can help the United States,” he added, referring to Hochstein.
Qatari authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Russian border deployment
Moscow has alarmed the West by massing troops near Ukraine in the past two months, following its capture of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014 and backing separatists fighting Kiev troops in eastern Ukraine.
Biden previously told Russian President Vladimir Putin that a new Russian move on Ukraine would lead to sanctions and an increased US presence in Europe.
Russia denies planning to attack Ukraine and says it has the right to move its troops on its own soil as it sees fit.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met in Geneva on Friday at what the former called a “critical moment” in the crisis.
Senior diplomats said they were open to further dialogue after the talks showed no signs of breaking through.
EU member states acquire around 40% of their natural gas supply from Russia, and most of it goes through Ukraine.
Qatar is one of the largest LNG producers, with most of the fuel sold to countries in East Asia.