Ukraine has joined the US-aligned International Energy Agency (IEA) as an association country, the watchdog said, binding Kyiv closer to the mostly Western countries which oppose Russia’s invasion.
The Paris-based IEA consists of 31 big energy-consuming member countries – including most big economies such as the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France and Japan – but not Russia – and has a second tier of 11 so-called “association states” such as China, India and Indonesia.
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“In these particularly challenging times following Russia’s unprovoked invasion, we are further strengthening the relationship to support Ukraine’s significant reconstruction needs and help it build a new energy future,” IEA executive director Fatih Birol said on Tuesday during a signing ceremony in Warsaw.
“Ukraine has an important energy security role in Europe and beyond,” he added.
Russia has cut off or reduced natural gas supplies to several countries in Europe, including Poland, in retaliation for sanctions on Moscow.
There are also fears that a key natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany will not reopen after scheduled maintenance this week. A further drawdown in flows of natural gas used to power industry, generate electricity and heat homes threatens European efforts to refill storage for the cold months and avert an economic crisis.
“When there is not enough gas [due to cuts by chief supplier Russia], Europe may be called to show the full strength of its union,” Birol said.
Birol and Ukraine’s Minister of Energy German Galushchenko signed the documents in the capital of Poland, which supports neighbouring Ukraine in its fight and has taken in millions of refugees from the war.
Such a decision would allow Ukraine to work closer with the IEA on data-sharing, analysis and best practices as well as managing energy demand. It also will support Ukraine’s reconstruction efforts.
Galushchenko said his country wants to rebuild its energy system in a new way, using the most advanced technologies, and that the support of the IEA may be crucial for the task.
Birol said he was impressed with the unanimous support that all member governments gave last month to Ukraine’s application and to bring it into the “IEA family”.
The IEA member and associate countries represent more than 75 percent of global energy demand.