The Duncan Banner

March 18, 2014

Cole: U.S. must stand with Ukraine

By The Banner Staff
The Duncan Banner

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, said Monday he hopes President Obama lifts the ban on exports of liquefied natural gas to “blunt” the effect of Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

Cole also said the United States should not attend a meeting of the world’s largest economic nations scheduled for June in Sochi, Russia, and should work with allies to remove Russia  from the so-called G-8 organization of nations.

The congressman from Moore made his comments in a statement released from office in Washington, D.C.

Cole, who represents the 4th Congressional District that includes Duncan and Stephens County, said the U.S. should send a message that  Russia’s aggression against  its European-aligned neighbor will not be tolerated.

The statement was made after Russian troops moved into the peninsula of Crimea in Ukraine.

“Seeing himself as the protector of the ‘Russian world’ (otherwise known as any Russian speakers) and justifying his actions with that sentiment, Putin violated Ukrainian sovereignty ... This Russian military occupation undoubtedly strongly persuaded or coerced officials in the Crimean peninsula to call a referendum on Sunday—resulting in residents voting to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. With rumors of ballot fixing and due to Russia’s presence in the area, the resulting vote of 97 percent in favor is suspicious,” Cole said.   

Russia’s actions are not justified, Cole charged.

“Crimea belongs to Ukraine, which means its future should be determined by Ukraine. Sunday’s vote contradicts Ukrainian sovereignty and cannot be viewed as legal means for Russia to occupy Crimea. The situation must be viewed as a threat to the United States and our allies, requiring immediate show of strength, leadership and ability to stand up to Russia.”

Cole, elected in 2002, said he is  “pleased that President Obama acted swiftly by announcing an executive order that places sanctions on several Russian officials, but there is still much that can and should be done...”

 “In today’s changing geopolitical landscape, the strength of a country isn’t measured primarily by militaries anymore. Because world economies are now so intertwined, conflict between countries can wreak havoc on numerous economies.

“Unfortunately, Putin senses weakness in America's leadership, and now he’s waiting for other opportunities to strike. We must augment, implement or leverage the resources we have at our disposal in order to loosen Russia’s grip on Ukraine. Most specifically, the United States should be moved to utilize and expand production of natural gas in order to claim the role of primary supplier of that resource to Ukraine.”

“Even though the United States isn’t being directly attacked by Russia yet, doing nothing when we have the ability to do something will be viewed as weakness and eventually make us the next target. As we keep a watchful eye on the situation, I hope that President Obama will recognize the opportunity to blunt Russian aggression and help diffuse conflict in the region, particularly by lifting bans on exports of U.S.-produced liquefied natural gas.”