Russian energy exports. Ukraine, for instance, gets some 40%-50% of its natural gas from Russia, and Europe gets roughly 30% its natural gas from Russia. Recall, just a few short years ago, too, the Russian extortion of cutting off those gas flows—in the middle of winter—over an alleged bill-paying (or not) scandal: it wasn’t those who supposedly weren’t paying the country’s gas bill who were harmed, though, it was the citizenry threatened with freezing temperatures in their own homes. And as part of the Russian extortion, they cut off gas flows to Europe, too.
Now comes the Obama administration, with its control over our own ability to export natural gas to various places—for instance, to Europe and to Ukraine—or to the world generally. The one export targets would directly break Russia’s hold over Ukraine and Europe, while the other would, at the least, drive down the price of natural gas, making it easier for those two to find and import other sources. Yet this is the claim of Bill Gibbons, spokesman for President Barack Obama’s Energy Department:
Regarding specific Energy Department actions on LNG exports, the Department remains committed to an expeditious and responsible process. We continue to make public interest determinations on a case-by-case basis, carefully considering economic, energy security, environmental and geopolitical impacts, among other factors.
Surely, breaking Ukraine’s and Europe’s dependence on Russian energy sources is a matter of geopolitical impact, especially with Russia having invaded Ukraine. Yet the Energy Secretary, who under DoE’s permitting process can deny applications to countries that don’t have a free trade agreement with us, has approved all of six applications in the last three plus years to such countries, and he has some 24 more applications sitting on his desk with no action in the offing. Certainly, all of those predate the present Russian assault, but acting on those export applications, rather than dissembling about them, would have an immediate favorable impact on Ukraine and Europe, if only through natural gas pricing on the world market—which would help these while harming Russia.
This administration automatically foot drags, even in an on-going crisis, on any matter pertaining to international affairs. It has no understanding of foreign affairs, and so it’s wholly incapable of anticipating and planning for global events; this lack underlies its foot-dragging.
It’s no wonder our enemies have such contempt for us—and Ukraine is in the strait it’s in.