The United States should move quickly to export natural gas to Ukraine and Eastern Europe, says Rep. Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
"What would really help the Ukraine is a program that would help them develop gas, any program that would export our own natural gas into their market. You know, we're flaring gas here, we are capping wells, there's a way we can create tens of thousands of new jobs in the United States if we would take our natural gas and use it as a strategic advantage here," the California Republican told Newsmax TV's John Bachman and J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" Thursday.
"Clearly it would also help our deficit, to sell it to Ukraine and Eastern Europe. This is the request that came this morning from the heads of state of four Eastern European countries that we, the United States, sell them the gas. We can make a huge profit because remember, Russia is charging monopoly prices in that region.
"That is the long-term solution and there's a lot of Shell gas potential in western Ukraine. Our companies should help develop that. More profits to the United States and more energy independence for Ukraine."
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As for the tough economic reforms Ukraine must carry out in exchange for the $27 billion financial lifeline that the IMF extended Thursday, Royce said, "When these countries are former Soviet Republics they really are pretty dysfunctional. All of these things that we take for granted in the West are really unknown under communism. It's not the natural thing for people to change the way they do business. So I do think it's mandatory that we have this leverage, that we force the changes. I'm going over in a couple of weeks to Ukraine with a large bipartisan delegation of members to have these discussions with Ukrainian parliamentarians…. They do need a lot of input."
Royce, who served California's 30th congressional district, and previously the 40th, has served in Congress since 1993.
He said there has been progress in both chambers on an aid package to Ukraine, especially in light of recent comments by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"At the end of the day we will work something out and get it on the president's desk. The reason we're trying to work quickly on this is because if you listen carefully to the speech to the Duma, what Vladimir Putin said was that the boundaries of Russia, the Russian nation, is not confined by the current boundaries," he explained.
"Well, what that means is that those adjacent countries that have large Russian populations, it sounds as if Vladimir Putin is saying those are within the Russian nation. This makes people in Latvia and Estonia very, very nervous."
Asked about a contingency plan for the next step should Putin move further into Ukraine, Royce replied,
"The reason the European Union took this action recently and the reason we're taking this action in terms of sanctions is… certainly the threat of a massive importation of American energy into Eastern Europe would break the back of the Russian economy. The reason we're raising the specter of this is to make certain that those troops do not go into Eastern and Southern Ukraine, where about 8 million people under forced collectivization and under the purges of Joe Stalin… perished."
"We want to send the united message that we're going to support civil society, we're going to support Ukrainian independence, and in so doing, send a message that there's going to be severe consequences to President Putin and the Russian economy if they do not," he added.
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