Kerry denounces use of energy as weapon

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BRUSSELS — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday denounced the use of energy as a weapon, a day after Russia sharply hiked the price for natural gas to Ukraine.

Kerry told a meeting of the US-EU Energy Council at European Union headquarters in Brussels that supplies of oil and gas have to be secured throughout the world to prevent their being used as political leverage or tools of aggression. He also urged the council to move forward with efforts to promote the diversification of energy supplies so that no country is overly dependent on one particular supplier.

“It really boils down to this: No nation should use energy to stymie a people’s aspirations,” Kerry said. “It should not be used as a weapon. It’s in the interest of all of us to be able to have adequate energy supplies critical to our economies, critical to our security, critical to the prosperity of our people. And we can’t allow it to be used as a political weapon or as an instrument for aggression.”

On Tuesday, Russia’s state-controlled Gazprom natural gas giant said it had withdrawn the discount applied to Ukraine’s natural gas purchases and threatened to reclaim billions in previous discounts for Ukraine, raising the heat on its cash-strapped government. The move is expected to eventually hit Ukrainian consumers hard. Household gas prices in Ukraine are set to rise 50 percent beginning May 1.

MATTHEW LEE, ASSOCIATD PRESS

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