There’s no denying the raw, blatant aggression of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In the four years since the invasion of Crimea, Ukraine has borne the brunt of Russia’s expansionism, leaving the country in a frozen conflict.
Prior to 2014, the eastern Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk provided the energy resources necessary to keep the country’s lights on. Now that the eastern provinces are held by Russian-backed separatists, Ukraine is in desperate need of energy security. Deprived of a reliable domestic source of energy, Ukraine may soon have no choice but to cave to Russian aggression.
But there’s a sign of hope. Robust American coal and natural gas production has allowed the United States to reclaim the mantle of energy superpower. EPA Administrator Pruitt’s rollback of unnecessary regulations, such as the Clean Power Plan, have allowed the American coal industry to rebound.
American coal and natural gas exports to Ukraine increased dramatically in 2017. Ukraine received more than 700,000 tons of American coal, enough to power its electrical grid through the winter. American energy independence can serve as free market reinforcements for a beleaguered nation on the frontlines of the fight for democracy.
Many of the Obama administration’s energy policies, spurred on by Kremlin-backed anti-fracking groups, played directly into Putin’s hands. Without American energy exports, Ukraine would be forced to turn to Russia to meet its energy needs. President Obama’s energy and environmental policies, in this regard, were irresponsible and reflected his “lead from behind” attitude.
As the main supplier of natural gas to Eastern Europe, Russia has wielded coercive power in the decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Ukraine can remain free and democratic by terminating its dependence on Russian energy and American exports of coal and natural gas are helping them do this.
America’s energy renaissance is a weapon in the arsenal of democracy that helps to guarantee Ukraine’s freedom.
Peter Vicenzi is a policy communications associate at the CO2 Coalition, which serves as an educational resource about the role of carbon dioxide.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.