April 8, 2014
Remarks of General James L. Jones
Energy Security in the Ukraine Crisis
Embassy of Poland/Atlantic Council
March 31, 2014

Thank you, Pawel, for that kind introduction and for your leadership in bringing top executives of the Polish energy industry to Washington at such an important moment.

Welcome everyone, particularly to our friends who have traveled far to join us today. I’m especially honored to extend a warm welcome to our distinguished colleagues from the Polish government who have made this trip to Washington at a very important time: Under Secretary of State Kacperzyk from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Under Secretary of State from the Ministry of Economy Antoniszyn-Klik; and Under Secretary of State of Treasury Tomborski.

I intend to keep my remarks brief, but before I address the subject at hand I’d like to congratulate and thank Ambassador Schnepf for hosting tonight’s important dinner and discussion.

Additionally, thank you to the Atlantic Council and Fred Kempe for convening this great group and for moderating the discussion this evening. I appreciate the opportunity to address this group and offer my thoughts on how the transatlantic community can respond to recent actions in Ukraine to bolster Europe’s energy security.

Ladies and gentlemen, the crisis in Ukraine – and Vladimir Putin’s unlawful actions in particular – have reminded us that Europe’s peace and security cannot be taken for granted. It is also a powerful reminder that the institutions, values, and relationships that underpin European and transatlantic security remain important well into the 21st century.

In the last two weeks, the United States has executed a mini ‘pivot’ to Europe to demonstrate solidarity with our friends in Europe and to reinforce those lasting bonds.

President Obama has just concluded a US-EU summit and a visit to NATO; Vice President Biden visited Poland to meet with Prime Minister Tusk and leaders from the Baltic states, and numerous members of the Congress and the Senate have visited Kiev to support the new government there.

The United States is showing these powerful signs of support because for perhaps the first time in this President’s tenure, European security is one of the top items on the global agenda.

Poland, its neighbors in Central Europe, the Baltic region, and the Black Sea region, are of critical concern, both because of geography, but also because of trade, energy, and economic linkages with Moscow.

Since joining NATO and the EU in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the central and East European countries have been among the most stalwart American allies on missile defense, Afghanistan, Iraq, further NATO enlargement, and the Balkans, among other issues.

Some have suggested that this region’s unique partnership with America might be a relic of another era. After all, our troops are leaving Afghanistan and have left Iraq, missile defense plans are moving forward, and much – but not all – of the region is firmly anchored in NATO and the European Union.

Fortunately, bright days are ahead for America’s relationship with Central and Eastern Europe. I believe that a focus on energy security can and must be a critical new element in the American strategic partnership in Central and Eastern Europe, and will benefit Poland, Europe as a whole, and the United States.

The fact that energy security is vital to all of our nations’ domestic economies is well-established; the Crimean crisis, however, is proving once again that energy security is also a central pillar of global stability.

Energy scarcity is a potent strategic asset for those who have it, and for those who don’t, it is a liability. The greater the gap between global supply and demand, the more destructive that asset can become.

The crisis in Ukraine has brought renewed attention to Europe’s uncomfortable truth. Europe is too dependent on Russia for oil and gas, which results in important economic and political costs.

The European Union and member states have made considerable progress in improving energy security since Russia froze parts of Europe in 2009 with an energy cutoff. But more must be done, particularly by our European friends.

But Europe should not be forced to stand alone in its quest for greater energy security. The United States can and should be a partner.

Fortunately there is good news that we did not have even five years ago. The United States, Canada, and Mexico possess the energy resources and technological expertise that can help Europe to diversify its energy sources.

The shale revolution in the United States has fundamentally transformed the global energy picture, as well as the debate concerning US energy policy.

Who would have predicted just six or seven years ago that in 2014 the United States would be the largest producer of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons, surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia?

This newfound energy abundance, and the technological, legal, and regulatory framework that enabled it, can be of assistance to Europe in its own attempts to bolster its energy security.

For the purpose of discussion, I believe there are a few steps the US can and should take to support Ukraine, reassure our allies in Europe, and bolster European energy security.

First, I believe the United States should undo outdated regulations that prevent us from sharing our energy abundance with friendly countries. Doing so would benefit our allies, but also provide important economic and trade benefits to the United States.

Just two weeks ago, Ambassador Schnepf and the Ambassadors of Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Hungary co-wrote a letter to House Speaker John Boehner encouraging the US Congress to enable natural gas exports to Europe. I support that call and I applaud the bipartisan efforts underway in the Congress to reform US energy export laws.

The Expedited LNG for American Allies Act introduced by Senator Barrasso and Congressman Turner, and the Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act, which provides that all pending LNG export applications shall be granted without delay, are excellent steps forward. But sooner, rather than later, the Congress needs to turn these bills into laws.

Second, US companies, as well as state, and local governments, should share their technical and regulatory expertise with friendly governments to help them benefit from their own unconventional resources. I applaud the efforts of State Department Special Envoy for Energy Affairs Carlos Pascual to help work with the US energy industry to bring the lessons learned from our energy experience to our European allies. This kind of public-private partnership is a critical element of modernizing how our countries must engage to thrive in the 21st century.

Third, the US should push for NATO to have more of a leadership role in energy security and policy. Energy can be the ultimate 21st century security issue. If NATO is to remain relevant well into this next decade, the Alliance must be more closely involved in strategic discussions about energy security, working in cooperation with the European Union. This September’s NATO summit in Wales would be a good opportunity for NATO to discuss this issue at the heads of state and government level.

Fourth, I believe the United States and its European allies should support the building of a pipeline from Basra in Iraq all the way to Ceyhan in Turkey on the Mediterranean. Iraq has enormous energy resources. Building this pipeline could offer an alternative southern route of energy to reduce European dependency on Russia for oil.

Finally, I do hope the United States will support the building of a north-south corridor of energy, telecommunications, and infrastructure in Europe, and I hope that American companies will be heavily involved in this project. Pawel, I look forward to working with you closely on advancing these ideas in our upcoming report with the Atlantic Council.

I would conclude by reminding us all that the transatlantic alliance has proven time after time that it is resilient and can rise to any challenge.

Our partnership is challenged yet again by events in recent weeks. Yet I am confident that the transatlantic alliance can evolve and make energy security the foundation of a transatlantic renewal.

Thank you for listening.

RELATED CONTENT