(File photo0 NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg Photograph:( Reuters )
One-third of the natural gas Europe consumes is supplied by Russia. There are fears in the Western camp that Russia may use this as leverage if war breaks out over Ukraine Crisis
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Sunday said that Europe needed to diversify its energey supplies. Though he did not explicitly mentioned Russia in this context the hint was clear as Russia is one of the major suppliers of natural gas to Europe. Relations between Russian and the West have been strained over the Ukraine crisis.
"We are concerned about the energy situation in Europe because it demonstrates the vulnerability of being too dependent on one supplier of natural gas and that's the reason why NATO allies agree that we need to work and focus on diversification of supplies," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenburg said.
Russia has massed some 120,000 troops near its neighbour and demanded the western defence alliance pull back troops and weapons from eastern Europe and bar Ukraine, a former Soviet state, from ever joining the Western defence alliance.
US officials said on Saturday Russia's military buildup had been expanded to include supplies to treat casualties of any conflict. Across the border in Ukraine, locals trained as army reservists as the government scrambled to prepare.
Moscow denies any plan to invade but said on Sunday it would ask NATO to clarify whether it intends to implement key security commitments after earlier saying the alliance's response to its demands did not go far enough.
"If they do not intend to do so, then they should explain why," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on state television. "This will be a key question in determining our future proposals."
The United States has said it is waiting to hear back from Russia. It says NATO will not withdraw from eastern Europe or bar Ukraine but it is prepared to discuss topics such as arms control and confidence-building measures.
Washington has spent weeks trying to build agreement with European partners on a strong sanctions package if Russia attacks Ukraine. But the issue is divisive, with Germany urging "prudence".
(With inputs from agencies)