Story by International Business Times

Russia’s pipeline deal with Greece has alarmed the United States since the agreement could spell disaster in the strategic balance of the Eastern Mediterranean. The U.S. is pushing for an alternative gas pipeline to prevent the Greek radical-left government from moving closer to the Kremlin.

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said the gas pipeline from Azerbaijan the U.S. is offering would help break the hold of Russian state-controlled Gazprom on European markets, reports the Telegraph. “Diversified supplies are important and we strongly support the ‘Southern Corridor’ to bring Caspian gas to Europe,” added Moniz who spoke to reporters at the CERAWeek oil and gas forum in Houston.

The U.S. energy secretary insisted that it was important to maintain a “collective energy security” in Europe. Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said Gazprom had made a very good offer as the firm guaranteed gas supplies for 10 years at good prices. He wondered how his Syriza government could turn down Gazprom’s offer unless the West could present a better alternative.

U.S. Delayed Signing of Gas Deal

Under the terms of the Russian company’s offer, Russia would supply 47bn cubic metres of gas to Greece. This would potentially generate revenue and 2,000 jobs for Greece. The energy alliance with Russia could transform Greece into an energy hub.

The gas deal was due to be signed last April 21 but Washington’s overtures had caused a delay that irritated Russia. Greece had complained over Gazprom’s tough stance on the violations of Greek natural gas company DEPA as the it was required to pay for unused gas.

Kotzias said after his trip to Washington this week that the U.S. is preparing a counter-offer for Greece. The U.S. government is planning to send an emergency mission to Athens in the next few days to be led by Amos Hochstein, the U.S. State Department’s energy troubleshooter.

NATO Cyber Drills Focusing On Russia, ISIS

Meanwhile, CNBC reports that NATO’s cyber security drills in Estonia will likely to mimic the earlier attacks by Russia and ISIS. Nearly 400 security experts from 16 countries will be participating in the “Locked Shield” exercise organised by NATO in Tallin, Estonia.

The drills will test cyber threats in computers or devices with Windows 8 and 10 operating systems alongside elements of “active defence,” according to NATO’s statement on its Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence website. A representative said the threat scenarios would not be purely fictional but will be based on real-life technology, networks and attack methods.

Robert Pritchard, associate fellow in the cyber security at the Royal United Services Institute in the UK, said NATO will be focusing on threats that will be potentially be from Russia and other groups supporting ISIS. The expert noted that Russian hacking attacks usually focused on espionage to steal valuable information.

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