Rep. Royce: More US Gas Exports Could Cripple Russian Economy

Thursday, 17 Apr 2014 06:31 PM

By Aaron Stern

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Reports of leaflets being distributed in eastern Ukraine ordering Jews to register with local authorities have yet to be verified for authenticity, as BuzzFeed has reported, but are still  evidence of a rapidly deteriorating situation, says California Republican Rep. Ed Royce.

"You're seeing the Russians pick up their — just as they did against the Tatar Muslim minority in Crimea — you see them picking up this campaign of intimidation against minority groups," Royce, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" Thursday on Newsmax TV.

Royce is scheduled to fly to Ukraine today with a delegation of eight House members to meet with political and religious leaders throughout the country.

Story continues below video.

And as the tension mounts between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Barack Obama over Russia's efforts to destabilize troubled Ukraine, Royce said the best thing the United States can do to curb Putin's power is to step up production and exports of liquid natural gas to Europe. That would stem European reliance on Russia's supply of gas and reduce Putin's power over that part of the world.

"At this point we haven't really taken any concerted action that would threaten the Russian monopoly on oil and gas in the region," he said.

Russia's economy, as well as its military funding, are heavily dependent on natural gas sales, said Royce, and the United States could simultaneously cripple the Russian economy and reduce its own trade deficit by exporting natural gas to its allies in Europe. The Obama administration has resisted such a plan because of its opposition to expanding and promoting cultivation of fossil fuel energies, but Royce said it should be done in the interest of national security.

"The instantaneous impact on the stock market in Russia on [Russian gas monopoly] Gazprom stock and on the value of the ruble would also be something that would shake Moscow," he said.

Royce said he intends to meet with as many leaders as possible during his trip to Ukraine.

"We are going to be meeting with the Jewish community, the Tatar community, the Catholic as well as the Eastern Orthodox communities; we're going to be in the east and in the west.

"We're going to meet with Eastern Ukrainian legislators as well as those in the west, and as you know the elections [are] coming up on May 25, presidential and local elections — so we want to [have] dialogue with those who have to make the decision of how to pull the country together in the face of these challenges of having a huge Russian black operation going on inside the country right now."

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