In fight for Europe's future, US battles to wean countries from Russian energy dependence

The U.S. and Russia are once more locked in what could be a generation-defining conflict, and Europe is yet again at the core. But this Cold War reprise isn't about military supremacy.

It's about heat and electricity for tens of millions of Europeans. The points on the battlefield aren't troops, tank battalions and missile silos but pipelines, ports and power plants.

As the Obama administration escalates economic sanctions on Russia and weighs military support to Ukraine, it also has revved up a less-noticed but far broader campaign to wean Central and Eastern Europe off a reliance on Russian energy.

Doing so, U.S. officials say, would mean finally "liberating" the former Soviet states and satellites from decades of Moscow's economic bullying.

Yet the Kremlin is fighting back.