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Biden fighting Putin on the energy front, speaker says

Feb 1, 2022 | Featured

LNG exports intended to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian oil and gas.

Marco Levytsky, Western Bureau Chief.

US President Joe Biden is fighting Russian dictator Vladimir Putin on the energy front, says a leading expert on Ukraine-Russian relations and energy.

He is increasing the supply of Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) to Europe in order to reduce its dependence on Russia, says Dianne Francis.

“This month more LNG gas has gone to Europe than Russia has shipped to Europe,” she told over 60 participants at a webinar organized by the Ukrainian Professional and Business Association of Calgary, January 27.

“What he is doing is giving comfort to the Germans to go along with draconian sanctions to prevent Putin from going further because they will have a source of supply. LNG plants will be built like crazy in Europe. They already are… This is Biden’s weapon. He is fighting energy with energy,” she added.

Through Germany’s dependence on Russian oil and gas, Putin was able to co-opt the country, Francis elaborated.

“Germany now has 50% of its power needs, oil and gas, met by Mr. Putin. That is going to go up if his pipeline (Nord Stream 2), which has been a big battle is ever permitted… With Germany held hostage, essentially, he has started to make his moves more aggressively,” she added.

“Germany is the engine of economic growth for Europe. It is the fourth largest economy on the planet, and he can bring it to a halt tomorrow,” Francis noted

“What we have now is what I call a hostage taking incident. Ukraine’s a hostage. Germany is a hostage. Europe is a hostage. He’s holding the hostages,” she said.

Asked whether there a link between Putin and the Green movement in Europe where Germany has cut back on conventional oil and power and Denmark is totally vacating oil and gas, Francis replied “absolutely”.

Russians have financed the anti-fracking movement, the anti-oil sands movement and “anything that will reduce the competition from other sources of oil and gas.”

Russia probably financed the anti-nuclear movement as well. Getting rid of nuclear plants was “the biggest mistake, apart from electing Hitler, that Germany has ever made” because it “put them right in the palm of Mr. Putin”.

Francis had particularly harsh words for former German Chancellor Gerhard Shroeder, who was a strong advocate for Nord Stream.

She labelled him a “collaborator with Putin” who has become a Russian oligarch himself, a director of Russian oil monopoly Rosneft and gas monopoly Gazprom and a “fifth column inside the German elite on behalf of Putin”.

Asked whether there was an underlying reason why Canada has not provided Ukraine with lethal defensive weapons including most recently, she referred to a January 25 article she wrote for the Atlantic Council outlining how members of Canada’s large Ukrainian diaspora are growing increasingly frustrated with what they see as their government’s failure to stand with Ukraine as it faces the prospect of a full-scale Russian invasion.

She chose the Atlantic Council as her vehicle because it’s widely read in the Washington beltway and thus “embarrassed the Trudeau government (to) no end” prompting them to find some money and reboot Operation Unifier within hours.

“It’s a disgrace. And frankly, I hope I don’t offend too many people, the prime minister and his entire government has been a total disgrace since 2015,” Francis said.

Asked about the treason charges laid against former President Petro Poroshenko, she said it looks like political vengeance to many but there are bona-fide investigators working on the case and Mr. Poroshenko has always had a big odour about him”.

He kept running his chocolate plants in Russia during the war, has business interests In China and is probably the biggest landowner in Ukraine.

“Poroshenko is a very ruthless businessman who I’m sure has cut corners because they’re allowed to do that there, but he was a stand-up president”, when the time came to build up Ukraine’s army and get things going after Russia’s 2014 invasion.

“But he’s not the guy who should be president again. Ever,” she added.

As for current President Volodymyr Zelenskyy “he has represented the country very well. I think he handed the terrible Hunter Biden nonsense with Trump with aplomb, with dignity”.

With the popularity of his television shows he is a household name, “the George Clooney of the Russian-speaking world”.

“Mr. Zelenskyy’s election really got Putin mad,” she stated.

Francis described Ukraine as “the most talented country in Europe”, which used to be the “Silicon Valley of the USSR” and is now “the IT capital of the world”, which leaves her optimistic as to the country’s future.

Asked why she is so interested in Ukraine, Francis said she knows a lot of Ukrainians in Canada and as a journalist goes where the story is.

“Ukraine is the biggest underdog story in geopolitics right now. It’s been an underdog. It’s trying to get ahead. It’s done better at getting out from under the nonsense than any other underdog and its going to make it. So, I root for the underdog.”

Francis is an expert on Canada, the United States, Canada-US relations, Silicon Valley, future technology, geopolitics, the Ukraine-Russia conflict, Putin, energy, business, and white-collar crime.

An award-winning columnist, bestselling author, investigative journalist, speaker, and television commentator, she is Editor-at-Large at Canada’s National Post and a columnist for American Interest, Atlantic Council’s Ukraine Alert, and Kyiv Post. Francis is Faculty at Singularity University in Mountain View, California, a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Ryerson University in Toronto, a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC, and sits on the boards of the Hudson Institute’s Kleptocracy Initiative in DC.

In 1991, Francis became Editor of Canada’s Financial Post, the first woman editor of a national daily newspaper in Canada, a position she held until the paper was sold in 1998. She is the author of ten books, including Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country (2013, featured in a cover story in Foreign Policy), Who Owns Canada Now?: Old Money, New Money and the Future of Canadian Business (2008), and Immigration: The Economic Case (2002).

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