There's a scene in the first season of Game of Thrones where the king and queen are talking about how vulnerable their chaotic nation of kingdoms to an invasion from an outside force. "What's the bigger number," the king asks, "Five or one?" "Five," the queen answers.
To demonstrate his lesson, the king holds out all his fingers, "Five" — then clenches the five fingers of his other hand into a fist. "One."
Lesson? Unity is strength, and if free people want to stay free they need to close ranks together.
While easy to express, this principle is much harder to enact in real life. We've seen that in recent months on energy policy, both at home and abroad.
One of the first misdeeds of the Biden administration was cancelling construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, an addition to the main artery for oil between the U.S. and Canada. Cutting this off was called "a gift to China and Russia" because it allowed our nations' shared international adversaries to exploit an energy demand previously filled by Canada. News outlets from Fox to MSN criticized the move.
Something comparable happened recently — this time between Canada and Ukraine — that likewise gives advantage to the nations' shared adversaries.
A Canadian solar panel company that has been blocked from providing energy by a competing Ukraine solar company, violating a free trade agreement and sparking cries of corruption. Oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky of the Nikopol Ferroalloy Plant (NFZ), a Ukrainian entity, shut off TIU Canada's access to the Ukrainian market so NFZ can control the energy production and enjoy a monopoly.
There is broader fear that this could be the first domino of U.S. or Canadian investment in Ukraine, if this kind of corruption and protectionism will lead to more unfair practices.
Canadian Sen. Peter Harder echoed this concern, tweeting that "The developments surrounding @TIUCanada are concerning. Rule of law and holding oligarchs accountable is paramount to #Ukraine attracting the foreign investment it desperately needs. The people of #Ukraine deserve tangible progress on both fronts."
Corruption has long been a problem for Ukraine, a country that has struggled the last 30 years to come out from under the Soviet heel. While the degree of Soviet incompetence was exaggerated for dramatic effect in the 2019 Chernobyl series, the problem still remains.
When Volodymyr Zelenskyy was elected president that same year, it was on the promise of wide-reaching reforms that would push back on corruption, replace inept government officials, and improve the economy.
It appears President Zelenskyy still has some work to do.
When Kolomoisky was governor of Ukraine's Dnipropetrovsk region from 2014 to 2015, he was involved in significant corruption and human rights violations. This has earned him and members of this family sanctions from the State Department, as U.S. authorities also pursue a civil case over billions of dollars he allegedly from a Ukrainian bank he once owned.
So it's not out of character for him to exploit his position to enrich himself at the expense of his fellow Ukrainians. Sabotaging a foreign solar power company seems right in his wheelhouse.
While Ukraine and other places — like, for example, the United States under its current regime — can't ignore the continued value of traditional energy sources like coal and petroleum products, they need to diversify. Renewable energy, which is growing at a record pace, on track to become perhaps the largest power source by 2025.
Solar is a relatively new energy source for Ukraine and can help them with energy independence. Even conservative elements within the country's energy sector can see that Ukrainian energy independence helps them and hurts Russia.
Rivalry between Kyiv and Moscow goes back about 1,000 years, so there's no immediate solution to tensions there. Indeed, Ukraine is technically at war with Russia, yet still hooked on Russian energy. Since Russia is the only other source in the region creating solar energy, Ukraine can't sacrifice any edge to their neighboring adversary.
Free nations like the United States, Canada and Ukraine need to continue working together in a tumultuous time like this. There isn't the opportunity to let petty concerns and short-sighted tycoons like Kolomoisky sacrifice the future of us all for his own short-term profits. Unity is strength, and if free people want to stay free we need to close ranks.
Jared Whitley is a long-time politico who has worked in the U.S. Congress, White House and defense industry. He is an award-winning writer, having won best blogger in the state from the Utah Society of Professional Journalists (2018) and best columnist from Best of the West (2016). He earned his MBA from Hult International Business School in Dubai. Read Jared Whitley's reports — More Here.
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