Failed Obama administration energy and foreign policies are empowering Russian President Vladimir Putin, says former Rep. Pete Hoekstra.
Hoekstra told J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on NewsmaxTV that the United States would have greater leverage in Ukraine if President Barack Obama had shown leadership by not resetting foreign policy with Russia and would take the measures necessary to position the country as a global energy producer, such as approving the Keystone XL Pipeline.
"The opportunity here for the United States is to really take a leading role in energy," said Hoekstra, a Michigan Republican.
"It is the opportunity to develop a resource that will strengthen our economy. It will help strengthen our alliances around the world, make them less dependent on the Middle East, make them less dependent on Russia," he said Monday.
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Ukrainian security forces on Monday battled pro-Russian militants in Slavyansk, making inroads in overtaking the gunmen who have overrun the region. A day earlier, pro-Russian sympathizers battled their way into a police station in Odessa, demanding the release of detained comrades. In an effort to appease the hostile crowd, 67 alleged "enemies of the state" were permitted to go home.
Hoekstra, former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the continued violence is an example of how Ukraine's new Western-backed leaders are unable to maintain law and order, let alone confront a Moscow-backed uprising.
"Putin wants instability in Ukraine," Hoekstra said. "It gives him a tremendous amount of leverage, all of the rhetoric that's coming from the West, whether it's coming from the United States, whether it's coming from Germany or other partners in NATO, it's really not having any impact on Putin. He's going to continue moving forward, and so far the West has really been powerless to stop him or even intimidate him."
Hoekstra said the European Union is not blameless.
"They [the EU] are nowhere," Hoekstra said. "They're dependent on Russia for their natural gas. They're unwilling to do fracking and use the latest technology to develop their own energy resources. They put themselves in a position the same time that the U.S. was resetting.
"They said, 'Hey, Russia's OK. We can reset with Russia, we can put ourselves in a position where we are dependent on Russia for our energy.' So, the EU, they really have no credibility and they have no leverage with the Russians at this point."
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