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WAR IN UKRAINE: The U.S. Hardware Kyiv Needs Most

Fresh off a surprise visit to Kyiv, President Biden vowed Tuesday that America “will not tire” in its support for Ukraine. To deliver on that commitment, Biden must hold together the bipartisan coalition that’s given Ukraine generous military assistance. Immediately granting Kyiv’s requests for ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System) missiles could help Ukraine retake additional territory and show Congress that U.S. assistance is paying dividends.

Despite Russia’s battlefield failures, Putin remains determined. He has mobilized hundreds of thousands of troops and appointed a new commander tasked with taking the rest of Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. The early stages of that offensive are underway.

Kyiv is planning its own counteroffensive, widely expected to occur this spring. To help, the West has stepped up training for Ukrainian troops and pledged additional tanks, armored vehicles and materiel, while Kyiv is mobilizing more soldiers and building additional units.

The good news: Russia’s battered military, increasingly reliant on poorly trained troops, probably can’t pull off large-scale offensive operations — a fact perhaps lost on Putin, who seems impatient for success.

The bad news: That’s not the only way Moscow could potentially salvage the war. Putin likely predicts that if Ukraine’s counteroffensive fails and the conflict grinds on with no end in sight, Western resolve will wane — and with it, the money and materiel on which Kyiv’s war effort depends.

Ukraine has solid prospects for success. Its military has proven it can achieve results when adequately resourced.

Ukraine’s previous counteroffensives in the country’s south and east capitalized on Russian manpower shortages. But Russia’s forces in Ukraine have roughly doubled, thanks to mobilization, and now have considerably less territory to defend following Russia’s retreats last year. Meanwhile, Russia has built fortified defensive lines stretching across the battlefield.

The war will likely drag on through 2023 and beyond. If so, Ukraine’s Western support will face two interrelated threats.

The first concerns the availability of military aid, particularly artillery ammunition. For all the attention on tanks and fighter jets, artillery remains central to this war. With its stocks of Soviet-made munitions largely exhausted and its defense industry decimated, Kyiv depends on Western supplies. But Western stockpiles are dwindling, and Ukrainian artillery shell consumption far outstrips Western production. All told, annual U.S. and European production would last Ukraine about three months.

Washington is working to increase output, and the EU is mulling similar measures. But production won’t increase significantly until next year, meaning the West must dig deep over the medium term. Although Moscow faces its challenges with ammunition stocks and production, Russia’s defense industrial base is running on a war footing and doesn’t face commercial and regulatory constraints that impede Western industry.

The Pentagon hopes that helping Ukraine’s military transition to a style of fighting that emphasizes maneuver rather than artillery-centric attritional warfare will reduce artillery consumption. Ukraine has conducted successful maneuvers only where Russian lines were weak. Kyiv will likely enjoy no such luxury going forward.

The second threat concerns political support. Most American lawmakers recognize that aid for Ukraine represents a cost-effective investment in U.S. security. Yet a small but vocal minority staunchly opposes further assistance. A growing number of voters, particularly conservatives, similarly question whether to continue aiding Kyiv.

Funding from the Ukraine aid bill Congress passed in December will run out as early as this summer, meaning lawmakers must agree on another one. As U.S. officials have warned Kyiv, that bill will be tougher to pass.

If Ukraine’s counteroffensive stalls, these challenges could compound. Western policymakers may be reluctant to invest in what many will wrongly diagnose as a stalemate. In fact, the conflict will remain an intense war of attrition; Ukraine’s military will need a steady supply of aid lest Russia gradually grinds it down. Some will be tempted to push Kyiv toward peace talks, even though Putin has shown no interest in peace and would likely exploit a potential ceasefire to gather Russia’s strength for a follow-on war.

Biden can get ahead by immediately granting Kyiv’s repeated requests for ATACMS missiles. This system, whose range far exceeds Ukraine’s current Western-supplied rocket artillery, can help blunt Moscow’s offensive and weaken Russia’s ability to resist Ukrainian advances. Also, ATACMS can help reduce Kyiv’s artillery shell consumption by facilitating maneuver while facilitating Ukrainian gains that inspire further Western support.

In Kyiv, Biden reiterated his pledge to support Ukraine “for as long as it takes.” What he does now will go a long way toward determining how long that is.

Point: How Should We Define This War?

For an alternate view see: “Counterpoint: U.S. Should Turn Ukraine War Over to Its European Allies”

War, it is rightly said, is the realm of uncertainty. This mantra is worth chanting on the looming first anniversary of Russia’s renewed invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. The ways in which Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and the Ukrainian army have defied predictions have been well cataloged, though perhaps not fully digested in some Western quarters. So, instead of imagining how and when the war will end, it is far better to ask the right questions than to guess at answers.

The most important question is: How should we define this war? Properly understood, the defense of Ukraine is a war cocooned in a larger war to contain Russian imperialist aggression. Should the “hot” Ukrainian war end with Kyiv’s original borders reclaimed, a “colder” contest still would have to be fought in the “gray zones” of information, ideology and influence. It would long continue as the antagonism between liberal Western societies and Russian autocracy is fundamental. Anticipating a “frozen conflict” is wise, although it very much matters where the iceberg begins and whether it continues to shrink or grows again.

Even in the Ukrainian context, a chill has set in that will likely last through the year, as Ukrainians have begun to look past 2023 in their desire to regain full sovereignty. To start with, they realize that modern Western weaponry, though imparting a critical qualitative advantage, will arrive slower, or in sufficient quantity, for a genuinely decisive counteroffensive. While one may hope that President Biden and his cautious advisers have learned that there is a real prospect of Ukrainian success, they have taken too long to do so and still lack the needed sense of urgency in providing the Ukrainian army with the tools required.

By contrast, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has reacted with greater agility to the opportunity offered by the winter pause on the battlefield. While his tactics have been gruesome — throwing conscripts and convict infantry against Ukrainian lines in the Donbas near the town of Bahkmut — they have exacted a heavy price in Ukrainian manpower. Another Russian innovation has been waves of drone and missile attacks on power grids, other infrastructure and civilian targets. None of these represents a path to the complete victory Putin desires, that being the re-absorption of Ukraine into a revived Russian empire. But he has taken the bloom off the rose of triumphalism that flowered in the wake of the Kharkiv counteroffensive last fall.

Having painted this current dark and bloody portrait, the prospect of a Ukrainian victory seems more distant, but it remains, in fact, real and realizable. The Ukrainian military has lost some of its best and most experienced fighters, but those who come next, with cadres increasingly trained in the West to execute more complex combined-arms campaigns, will arguably enjoy a greater tactical advantage over their enemies. The Russians cannot recruit, equip or train enough competent soldiers and pilots. There is also a widening morale and motivation gap. For Ukraine, this is undeniably a great patriotic war, while despite Putin’s propaganda efforts, it is not that for Russia. Putin cannot overcome his “Fatherland Deficit.”

Ukrainian victory is also highly dependent on continued Western support, and that means, first and foremost, American support. Biden has thus far paced U.S. weapons transfers to remain more or less in step with America’s European allies; he has been especially deferential to the Hamlet-like doubts of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

That’s going to be increasingly difficult to do: the Eastern European states who have been most generous in donating their own stocks of Warsaw Pact-era equipment don’t have much more to give, and, as the late kerfuffle over German-made Leopard tanks has shown, neither do the West Europeans.

The European cupboard is bare, and only the United States retains the kind of stockpiles and defense industrial capacity to sustain the effort to build up Ukrainian capability and capacity.

Many critics of Biden’s policy have made a zero-sum argument: support for Ukraine comes at the expense of U.S. interests in East Asia. This is not only a military misunderstanding — the kinds of forces needed for a land war in central Europe differ from those optimal for air-sea operations in the western Pacific — but also a misunderstanding of American strategy. In the realm of uncertainty, this remains a constant: superpowers cannot “pivot,” but must act globally and in the long run.

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YAW: Philadelphia: Don’t Miss the Big Picture on LNG

Late last year, the Pennsylvania Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee held a hearing in Philadelphia about the city’s critical role in boosting liquified natural gas exports – and the positive geopolitical and climate impacts that come along with it.

Nobody knew, however, because no reporters in the region bothered to show up. Aside from a few costumed protestors who would clearly favor Russian domination over the global energy market and the continued pollution and warmongering their LNG offers, no one came to hear what labor unions, gas companies and European business and climate experts had to say.

This is strange considering the overwhelming support for aiding Ukraine and stopping Russia’s totalitarian advances. It’s even more unusual considering the overwhelming scientific evidence illustrating a direct correlation between LNG and lowered greenhouse gas emissions worldwide over the next decade.

But that’s okay. I’ll tell you what they had to say. EQT, the nation’s largest producer of natural gas, told the committee they are just 26 months away from net zero status. This is critical since the energy crisis – looming over us for years, but exacerbated by inflation, the invasion of Ukraine and the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipeline – will reverse, at an unprecedented level, two decades of emissions decline.

You see, the United States doesn’t exist in a vacuum and so, every investment in wind and solar energy we’ve made since 2007 proves insufficient to offset even one year of fossil fuel emissions from the rest of the world. Boosting American LNG exports – of which a Philadelphia port makes entirely possible – has the potential to reduce these harmful emissions at a rate equivalent to electrifying every car in the country, installing solar on every home and doubling our wind capacity, combined.

We’ve seen it firsthand stateside. From 2005 to 2019, 61 percent of our emissions reduction came from our cleaner, more efficient production of natural gas. Our gas transition reduced more pollution than the other top five countries combined. It’s simple to extrapolate from there.

Pennsylvania produces roughly 22 percent of all domestic natural gas production and could replace nearly three-quarters of Russian gas currently imported into Europe. China, as it makes its own gas transition in the coming decade, would likewise turn to us for LNG, further immobilizing Russia’s war machine and any further turmoil President Vladimir Putin may cause.

That’s what central and eastern Europe need most, Ivo Konstanitov told us. He’s the U.S. Office Director for the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria and knows firsthand the devastation of weaponized LNG. He advocated for America – particularly Pennsylvania and nearby states – to extend necessary infrastructure to share its plentiful natural gas supply with Europe.

This aid alone, he said, would better protect Ukraine and other vulnerable countries from tyrannical governments. Fortunately, last year, the Biden administration said it will send an additional 15 billion cubic tons of LNG to Europe to see it through at least the end of 2022, staving off the worst impacts of Russia turning off the proverbial tap. Unfortunately, it’s clear Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is continuing.

So is record inflation and, as Konstanitov told us, demand for energy – both domestically and globally. That’s where Pennsylvania – rich in natural gas, pipelines and the necessary workforce – comes into the picture.

President Biden is going to need help if the United States is to continue propping up the European energy market. An LNG terminal in Philadelphia would connect Pennsylvania LNG to the world, fully unleashing the potential beneath our feet and restoring energy independence to this country.

Last session, state Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) authored legislation, House Bill 2458 (Act 133 of 2022), that would create a task force to study making the Port of Philadelphia an export terminal for LNG. The task force, which includes members of the General Assembly, natural gas industry, Philadelphia building trades and other leaders in the region, is expected to produce a report by November 2023.

Jim Snell, business manager for the Steamfitters Local 420, serves on the newly created task force. He told us recent international affairs have silenced some LNG opponents, many of whom once allowed their ideology to blind them to the reality that a rush to renewables creates: higher prices and weakened domestic and international security.

And although building infrastructure to meet this demand won’t be easy, Snell said, the several hundred members of Steamfitters Local 420 have the expertise and skills necessary to do the job. They already service Pennsylvania’s existing pipeline distribution system and the organization, itself, boasts nearly 120 years of experience constructing, installing and maintaining mechanical systems.

The union believes so much in the power of LNG that it offered to host our Senate hearing last year. Snell said himself there could be no more appropriate venue than it’s Philadelphia headquarters. It’s not just the steamfitters that have jobs tied to LNG expansion.

EQT estimates building out our infrastructure would create an additional 200,000 high-paying jobs across Appalachia, generating both global decarbonization and an economic boom bolstered by tens of billions in royalty payments to landowners. All of that could be achieved without costing taxpayers a single dime. So now you know what’s at stake and how solutions exist that don’t require more government spending and regulation.

Now you know that carbon neutrality and the renewable revolution can’t be reached without an LNG transition. And maybe, just maybe, the institutions responsible for sharing the bigger picture won’t get sidetracked by the narrow lens through which they view progress.

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In Wake of Griner’s Release, DelVal Reps Ask State Dept. to Help Free PA Resident

Pennsylvania Democrat Sen. Bob Casey lauded President Biden for securing the release of WNBA basketball player Brittany Griner but lamented that Pennsylvanian Marc Fogel is still being held by Russia.

“I am pleased Brittney Griner is returning home to her family after months of wrongful detainment by the Russian government. I applaud the Biden administration for negotiating her release so that Ms. Griner can spend the holiday season with her family,” Casey said via Twitter.

“However, while Ms. Griner and Paul Whelan’s cases have garnered national media attention over the past year, they are not the only Americans caught in the crosshairs of Vladimir Putin’s political games,” said Casey. “Marc Fogel is an American teacher who is being detained in Russia under similar circumstances to Ms. Griner. Mr. Fogel suffers from severe medical conditions and his family fears he will not survive his 14-year sentence in a hard labor camp. The Biden administration, and the Nation, cannot forget about Marc Fogel. Like Ms. Griner and others, Marc deserves to see his family again.”

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) tweeted: “While I am pleased that one unjustly detained American citizen is coming home, it is completely unacceptable that veteran Paul Whelan and PA resident Marc Fogel remain in Russia. The Biden administration must not rest until each wrongly imprisoned American is returned home.”

Casey and Toomey along with Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Allegheny) and Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Westmoreland) and a coalition of bipartisan members of Congress sent a letter Friday to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken asking the State Department to declare Oakmont native Fogel “wrongfully detained” and to work for his release.

DelVal Representatives Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester/Berks), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks/Montgomery), Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery/Berks) were among the 25 Congressional members who signed the letter.

“In light of the Moscow court’s August 25 decision to deny Mr. Fogel’s appeal and his ongoing transfer to a penal colony, we again request that you consider immediately classifying Mr. Fogel as wrongfully detained and prioritize your work to bring him safely home to his family,” the letter states. “We implore you to give this case the priority and gravity it deserves.”

Griner is a 32-year-old center for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. She pled guilty in a Russian court to charges stemming from the discovery of cannabis oil in her luggage while traveling to play in a Russian basketball league.

For months, Russia has been negotiating for the release of Viktor Bout, who was once on the FBI’s Most Wanted list just below Osama bin Laden. Known as the “Merchant of Death,” Bout was serving 25 years in prison for conspiring to kill Americans and U.S. officials, acquiring and exporting anti-aircraft missiles, and aiding a terrorist organization.

“One of the world’s most prolific arms dealers is being held accountable for his sordid past,” then-Attorney General Eric Holder said at the time. “Viktor Bout’s arms trafficking activity and support of armed conflicts have been a source of concern around the globe for decades. Today, he faces the prospect of life in prison for his efforts to sell millions of dollars’ worth of weapons to terrorists for use in killing Americans.”

Longtime State Department official Witney Schneidman, who tracked Bout’s career, called him “the personification of evil.”

Many Democrats have praised the Biden administration, while some Republicans worry about the precedent now set.

Dean said on Twitter, “Finally! Brittney Griner is coming home! Thank you  @POTUS , the administration, and her wife Cherelle for working to get Brittney freed. Sending love to her, her family, friends, teammates, and fans. We must do everything to help her recover from this unimaginable horror.”

Dean tweeted later: “Our work isn’t done until every American is brought home. As  @POTUS and the admin did with Marine Trevor Reed in April  — and now Brittney Griner — we will bring Mr. Whelan home. Congress will work tirelessly to reunite him with family and loved ones. We must bring him home.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) called the deal a “gift to Vladimir Putin.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also raised objections.

“It is always a relief when a U.S. citizen comes home. Unfortunately, the Biden administration’s handling of this situation leaves behind other Americans, like veteran Marine Paul Whelan and teacher Marc Fogel. What’s more, Putin and others have seen how detaining high-profile Americans on relatively minor charges can both distract American officials and cause them to release truly bad individuals who belong behind bars,” Rubio said.

Also, some question why Biden would bring home Griner, a third-tier celebrity, rather than Whalen, a former U.S. Marine.

Yuval Weber, an expert on Russian military and political strategy, told Yahoo Sports that Bout’s release may “incentivize rogue state and non-state actors to kidnap or imprison on trumped-up charges more Americans.” Weber also expressed concern that Bout might reprise his former role as an operative who exported arms to Russian allies at the Kremlin’s bidding.

“In sports terms,” said Weber, a distinguished fellow at Marine Corps University’s Brute Krulak Center for Innovation and Future Warfare, “we just traded a GOAT first-ballot Hall of Famer who still has many years of productivity left for a hometown Division III star.”

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Are Green Foreign Agents Bankrolling Shapiro Campaign?

Climate change activists opposed to energy production in Pennsylvania like what they see in Josh Shapiro, the attorney general now running for governor. 

Campaign finance records show the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund (NRDC) is contributing to the Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania Action Fund, which in turn is contributing to Shapiro’s gubernatorial bid. 

That is significant because both political action committees are tied in with well-endowed environmental groups that have been the subject of congressional probes into Russian-funded efforts aimed at disrupting America’s energy sector.

The NRDC, which has more than $460 million in assets, according its most recent tax filing, incessantly lobbies in favor of regulations restricting energy use in Pennsylvania. The New York-based nonprofit has also published reports designed to undermine public support for innovative drilling techniques like hydraulic fracturing that make it possible to access oil and gas deposits in the Marcellus Shale, a geological formation of sedimentary rock that cuts across parts of Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania Action Fund is affiliated with the League of Conservation Voters, which tax records show has more than $20 million in assets.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition, a group that supports energy companies and their employees, has a blog post detailing the harm that could be done to America’s economic, environmental, and national security interests in the event of a ban on hydraulic fracturing. That seems to be the overriding goal of the NRDC, and other environmental activist groups, that figure into a money trail allegedly leading back to Russia. 

In 2017, U.S. House members sent a letter to then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, calling attention to the role played by the Sea Change Foundation, a private entity based in San Francisco, that received funding from an overseas source. 

The foundation received $23 million from a Bermuda-based shell company between 2010 and 2011, which was then funneled into groups like the NRDC, the Sierra Club, and the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund in the form of grants, according to the letter. 

For the record, the NRDC has also been called out for maintaining close relations with China that suggest it may be operating in violation of foreign agent registration requirements.  In 2018, members of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee sent a letter to NRDC inquiring about its collaborative efforts with Chinese government officials. 

The group has denied operating as a foreign agent. But thanks to its well-heeled benefactors, it has ample funds to put Pennsylvania residents who rely on affordable, reliable energy at a great disadvantage. 

Big Green Inc., a project of the Institute for Energy Research, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit, has tracked hundreds of thousands of dollars flowing from left-leaning foundations into the coffers of green activist groups that target Pennsylvania. That database shows the Sea Change Foundation has pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into the state since 2010. 

What are the implications for the governor’s race in Pennsylvania and the future of energy policy for the state?

Although Shapiro postures as an ally of trade unions on the campaign trail, he is also accepting funds from environmental activist groups that target the industries supporting union workers. Even so, those same trade unions have contributed almost $3 million to Shapiro’s run for governor since 2021, according to campaign finance records. But is the attorney general really devoted to protecting union jobs associated with coal, oil, and gas companies? 

A spokesman for Shapiro said the Democrat wants to keep Pennsylvania’s energy sector strong.

“Josh Shapiro rejects the false choice between protecting jobs and protecting our plants – he believes we must do both, and he will support Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry, invest in clean energy, and protect Pennsylvanians’ constitutional right to clean air and pure water. He will protect the jobs we have while creating thousands more, and that’s why workers in the energy industry and environmental advocates have endorsed his campaign,” said Shapiro campaign spokesman Will Simons.

NRDC Action Votes and the Conservation Voters of PA Victory Fund recently announced they would spend $500,000 in independent expenditure campaign funds on behalf of Shapiro. Apparently, environmental activists expect Shapiro to cut a path toward their preferred regulatory policies if elected. 

That’s a problem not just for Pennsylvania, but for the American people as a whole. The U.S. Energy Information Administration identifies Pennsylvania as the nation’s number two natural gas producer after only Texas and the number three coal-producing state after Wyoming and West Virginia. It’s not hard to understand why a Russian propaganda campaign would attempt to take down Pennsylvania’s energy industry. 

Even if the green groups don’t view themselves as foreign agents, they clearly view Shapiro as a conduit for anti-energy initiatives that benefit America’s foreign adversaries. 


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OPINION: American Natural Gas-Driven Energy Security

Amid returning to post-pandemic normalcy, a horrific war and an energy supply crunch have had devastating effects on consumers across the globe, all against the backdrop of historical inflation.

It’s essential to understand American natural gas’s critical role in ensuring the world has access to affordable, reliable, clean energy and underpinning our national security.

Europe’s economic and energy policies fostered an environment that resulted in deep and dangerous reliance on Russian energy. The continent is now faced with soaring energy prices and significant reliability concerns. As our strategic allies desperately seek solutions, America’s energy producers are focused on safely increasing supplies to loosen Russia’s chokehold, including routing liquefied natural gas to Europe and signing strategic long-term LNG supply contracts.

But while these international partnerships are a step in the right direction to strengthening Europe’s energy security, policymakers are faced with grim choices. Germany is one step away from rationing natural gas in response to Russia’s latest actions to curtail fuel delivery. “We are in a gas crisis,” said Germany’s economy minister, Robert Habeck. “From now on, gas is a scarce commodity.”

That’s starkly different compared to the United States, where, as the world’s top oil and natural gas producer, we are much more energy secure due to the abundance of resources beneath our feet.

Additionally, having a plentiful domestic energy supply means we can share the economic and environmental benefits of American energy worldwide. In fact, the United States recently surpassed Australia and Qatar to become the globe’s top LNG exporter.

This is great for American diplomacy, domestic job creation and the environment. Amid returning to post-pandemic normalcy, a horrific war and an energy supply crunch have had devastating effects on consumers across the globe, all against the backdrop of historic inflation.

It’s important to understand the critical role American natural gas plays in ensuring the world has access to affordable, reliable, clean energy and underpinning our national security.

Europe’s economic and energy policies fostered an environment that resulted in deep and dangerous reliance on Russian energy. The continent is now faced with soaring energy prices and significant reliability concerns. As our strategic allies desperately seek solutions, America’s energy producers are focused on safely increasing supplies to loosen Russia’s chokehold, including routing liquefied natural gas to Europe and signing strategic long-term LNG supply contracts.

But while these international partnerships are a step in the right direction to strengthening Europe’s energy security, policymakers there are faced with grim choices. Germany is one step away from rationing natural gas in response to Russia’s latest actions to curtail the delivery of fuel. “We are in a gas crisis,” said Germany’s economy minister, Robert Habeck. “From now on, gas is a scarce commodity.”

That’s starkly different compared to the United States, where, as the world’s top oil and natural gas producer, we are much more energy secure due to the abundance of resources beneath our feet.

Additionally, having a plentiful domestic energy supply means we are able to share the economic and environmental benefits of American energy worldwide. In fact, the United States recently surpassed Australia and Qatar to become the globe’s top LNG exporter.

A Pew Research poll found that voters want to see more natural gas production at home to increase exports to Europe.

As the largest natural gas-producing region with the greenest environmental profile in the country, our three states  — Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia —  have the tools to solve global energy woes.

Safety, integrity and a commitment to continuous improvement are values held deeply by the members who make up our respective organizations. We’re committed to being the driver of America’s clean energy future.

After all, technological breakthroughs in our industry brought America its long-sought net energy export status for the first time since the 1950s. Not to mention that the United States has reduced emissions faster than any country in the world, thanks to the increased use of natural gas.

However, policymakers must do more to enable this American energy progress to deliver even more benefits for our economy, our people, our allies and our environment by approving needed infrastructure, expanding export capacity and increasing domestic natural gas production.

Rather than turning to American ingenuity for support, our president would instead turn to cartel leaders to stabilize the market. “Before you visit Riyadh, we invite you to visit Reynoldsville, Pa. It’s the heart of the Marcellus Shale in the state where you were born, one of the most prolific natural gas-producing regions in the world,” the energy industry leaders wrote in a recent letter to President Biden.

“Join us in one of America’s major energy-producing areas which together launched the American energy revolution that ended decades of U.S. energy scarcity and growing dependence on foreign governments,” the letter said.

Never has it been more apparent that access to affordable, reliable and clean energy is directly tied to security and quality of life. America — led by Appalachian energy — has the opportunity to take the lead in reducing energy scarcity and helping our allies discover new energy and economic growth opportunities. That is something we as Americans should take great pride in.

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POTAPOVA: Letter From Ukraine as War Continues

Dear Friends,

A lot has changed from the last time we talked. What putin* planned to accomplish in less than a week turned into four months of an atrocious war with almost 1 million Ukrainians losing their homes, over 7 million refugees fleeing the country, and almost 3,000 missile strikes on different regions of Ukraine—what russians claimed to be attacks on military facilities, now turned into the blunt and vicious bombings of civilians, with hundreds of innocent people burned and killed, 344 of those – children.

Four months and counting.

They don’t give up on the idea of capturing the south of Ukraine and controlling both Azov and the Black Sea, and if all goes well, they move further. Meaning they want to capture the whole of Ukraine. At the same time, they spread the Ukraine fatigue rhetoric in Europe, lie about attacking “only military objects,” threaten with global hunger, call foreign politicians names, and leave all their dead on the battlefield. When it seems like they’ve reached the bottom, we see them reaching and breaking new limits again and again.

You asked what actions the U.S. could take to help. I will name a few not only for America but for the whole world.

Number one – boycott. You mentioned russian vodka. Well, their vodka is the easiest product the world can boycott. Oil and gas, other commodities, food, cars, arts, and literature – I could continue the list, but I guess you’ve got the idea. Boycotting literally everything of russian origin speeds up their complete isolation and turns the aggressor into a pariah. Governments across the world should accelerate action to make large businesses leave russia and impose stricter trade limitations (if not bans).

By the way, Belarus joined the club long ago and deserves serious response and sanctions too.

Number two – #ArmUkraineNow. We deeply appreciate the collective response of the West to the russian aggression in Ukraine. What we need now is the West holding the line. Continue standing with Ukraine and helping us resist. Ukraine fatigue is a sinister media narrative, especially considering the russian threats to Poland and the Baltics, which could unleash World War III. Weapons and financial aid that Ukraine already received or expects to receive have been unprecedented. However, we continue losing thousands of our men and women every day while the decisions in the cabinets are being made. Whenever possible, faster decision-making should be considered – it literally saves lives.

Number three – help us punish the killers for the thousands of their war crimes. I mean the international levers of influence enabling Ukraine to claim and recover damages done to our infrastructure, housing stock, people, and cultural heritage. Recently, Canada has become the first country to adopt legislation that allows seizing Russian assets and transferring them to Ukraine. Large global economies should do the same. We know it can take decades to make russia liable for its crimes, just as it was with the fascists in the Nuremberg process or with the genocide architects in the former Yugoslavia. To elaborate the mechanism for the liability of russia, the world has to start now.

Number four – russians came to exterminate us, to break our backbone. Please help us make the russian state liable for the thousands of forcible deportations for the way they treat Ukrainian captives. What they do is deliberate extermination. All our people must be returned home. Take five minutes to read the interview with Yuliya Payevska; a Ukrainian paramedic recently saved from russian captivity. Isn’t that genocide?

They came to break the backbones not only of the Ukrainian people but even of our pets. Yesterday I read the news about a dog named Lys (Fox in English) found in Kyiv region in a trash pit. Although alive, he had a vertebrae fracture, russian soldiers also broke his feet and then mined him. What kind of a creature is capable of that hatred? Would you sit to negotiate peace and then shake hands over the agreement with barbarians?

And number five –donate. Did you hear about Ukrainians donating around $ 20 million to buy Bayraktars (unmanned aerial vehicles) in 3 days? Be like us, stand with us, and help us prevail.


*EDITOR’S NOTE: putin and russia are not capitalized to show her disdain for the aggressors.


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Putin Bans Brian Fitzpatrick From Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin is known to have a long list of enemies. So long, it reaches all the way to Bucks County, Pa.

Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) is on Putin’s list of people banished from Russia’s borders, along with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

The list is both lengthy and impressive. It features people from many walks of life: Politicians, business executives — even acclaimed actor Morgan Freeman made the list of 963 people who are now banned from entering Russia.

Perhaps the most unexpected name is Fitzpatrick’s brother Mike. A former congressman himself, Mike passed away in 2020 after a battle with cancer. Both Brian Fitzpatrick and his brother were outspoken supporters of Ukraine.

“The current landscape in Russia is one that is ruled by a murderous war criminal who denies its citizens basic human and civil rights, imprisons peaceful protesters, and indoctrinates its citizens with state-controlled propaganda,” Fitzpatrick told the Delaware Valley Journal.

Despite massive sanctions from the U.S., the E.U., and the West, Putin has continued waging war against Ukraine, an assault that has now lasted more than 100 days. His army is facing accusations of war crimes in its attempts to secure some of Ukraine’s cities. Buildings have been bombed, entire towns have been leveled and promises of safe passage have been violated. Children and the elderly have been among the civilian casualties. Fitzpatrick has been supportive of the measures that Biden has taken so far in its attempts to cripple the Russian economy, but argues America should do more.

“As long as Vladimir Putin is leading Russia, the entire world should boycott them and not contribute a single dime to their economy,” said Fitzpatrick.

While Putin is not making many friends in the U.S., a study conducted by Statista last month found 80 percent approved of Putin’s leadership. However, many critics have suspicions as to how accurate polls taken inside a state such as Russia can be.

Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick continues his fight against Russia and its treatment of Ukraine.

“I encourage everyone on Putin’s ‘ban list’ to join me in visiting Ukraine to meet a real leader like Volodymyr Zelenskyy, someone who shares our values and defends freedom and democracy in Ukraine and across the globe,” said Fitzpatrick.


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BROOKE: Ukraine War, Day 100: The Unimpressive Performance of Russia’s Military Thus Far

February 24, the day Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, is going down as a turning point in modern history.

As we hit the war’s 100-day mark on Friday, one of the most significant lessons is Russia’s much-feared “modernized” army, the largest in Europe, is, well, not so impressive.

On Feb. 25, many Western pundits predicted that the Russian army, the successor to the Soviet Union’s Big Red Machine, would roll into Kyiv in days. Putin thought the same. Many elite units he sent south to Kyiv carried dress uniforms in their backpacks. They were preparing for a victory parade down Kreshchatyk, the main avenue of Ukraine’s capital.

Instead, the world watched as Ukrainians rallied to stop the Russians dead in their tracks. Partisan units used drones to blow up tanks. U.S.-supplied Stinger missiles shot down so many helicopters and bombers that Russia never controlled the air. Diesel supplies ran out. Soldiers deserted their units.

Blocked in Kyiv’s suburbs, Russian soldiers descended into looting, drinking, raping and shooting civilians. Before retreating north to Belarus, Russian occupiers in Kyiv Region killed at least 1,500 civilians and destroyed 5,000 houses and 161 high-rise apartment buildings.

According to a daily tally maintained by Robert Homans, an American Ukraine expert in Washington, Russia lost 30,700 soldiers in the first three months of the war — more than double the 14,453 Soviet soldiers killed during the Soviet Union’s 10-year occupation of Afghanistan.

According to this tally, which draws on seven Ukrainian sources, Russia has lost: 208 fixed-wing aircraft in Ukraine, almost double the losses in Afghanistan; 866 artillery pieces, double the losses in Afghanistan; 3,343 armored personnel carriers, 2.5 times the losses in Afghanistan; and 1,361 tanks, nine times the losses in Afghanistan.

Going into the war, Westerners were guided by past gee-whiz articles, such as this April 2, 2014, piece in The New York Times: “In Crimea, Russia Showcases a Rebooted Army.” Written by two veteran reporters, the article came out two weeks after Russia’s virtually bloodless annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula, on the Black Sea. That surprise operation blindsided Ukraine’s unprepared and demoralized military. In that overwhelmingly Russia-speaking area, 9,268 soldiers and sailors — half of Ukraine’s military — defected. Only two Ukrainian soldiers died defending Crimea.

Virtually untested in a police action, Russia’s army looked sharp.

“Their uniforms were crisp and neat, and their new helmets were bedecked with tinted safety goggles,” reported the Times. “They were sober.”

Aleksandr Golts, an independent military analyst in Moscow, praised Putin’s massive military spending in the early 2000s, saying: “As a result of these reforms, Russia now has absolute superiority over any country in the post-Soviet space.”

The last word went to Mikhail Khodaryonok, a reserve Russian army colonel who was then editor in chief of Moscow’s Military-Industrial Courier. He told the Times: “Everything is in order. There is no more such shame as broken tanks and A.P.C.’s on the road, and outdated weaponry. … The epoch of decay has been fully overcome, and the armed forces of the country are on the rise.”

Fast forward to two weeks ago.

The same Mikhail Khodaryonok shocked viewers of “60 Minutes,” the main talk show on Russia’s state-owned Rossiya 1 TV channel.

“The situation (for Russia) will clearly get worse,” he warned on May 16. Citing the massive Western aid in the pipeline for Ukraine this summer, he said: “The Ukrainian army can arm a million people.”

Referring to Ukrainian soldiers, he noted: “The desire to defend their motherland very much exists. Ultimate victory on the battlefield is determined by the high morale of troops who are spilling blood for the ideas they are ready to fight for.”

Beyond the battlefield, the veteran Russian analyst said: “The biggest problem with (Russia’s) military and political situation is that we are in total political isolation and the whole world is against us. … The situation cannot be considered normal when against us, there is a coalition of 42 countries and when our resources, military-political and military-technical, are limited.”

Two days later, Khodaryonok reappeared on the same show. He reassured viewers of state-controlled TV that the outlook for Russian soldiers in Ukraine this summer is not so bad.

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SADLER: Ukraine War, Day 100: Raising the Cost for Russia’s Naval Blockade Can Avert a Prolonged War

As the ground war in Ukraine’s Donbas region likely bogs down into a contest of prolonged attrition, access to the Black Sea will be key to which belligerent outlasts the other. Before the invasion, over 70 percent of Ukraine’s exports left via its ports. So eventually lifting Russia’s blockade will be critical to securing its economic future and sovereignty.

In recent days, Russia completed its conquest of Mariupol, sweeping clear Ukraine’s access to the Sea of Azov. That leaves Odessa as the last major Ukrainian port with access to the Black Sea, but its sea approaches are blocked by Russia’s navy. Since the invasion began, the city has been the target of sustained missile attacks, and while the threat of invasion is lesser now, it is not zero.

Meanwhile, an avoidable global food crisis has been brewing for months as critical exports of grains and fertilizers have been cut off. Together, Russia and Ukraine supply 30 percent of the world’s wheat, 60 percent of its sunflower oil, and 20 percent of its corn via the Black Sea. The potential for famine in poorer nations reliant on these exports is spurring new urgency to end the war.

While the potential for a food crisis was predictable and noted months before, it has only recently gained serious attention. In the past week, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has pursued a deal to open grain shipments from the Black Sea. However, Russia has other options for getting its exports to market and has not been in any hurry to relent in its blockade—yet.

Barring some diplomatic agreement to allow shipping to resume from Odessa in order to end Russia’s naval blockade, the cost for Russia to sustain it must be raised. Already Ukraine’s navy has demonstrated its ability to sink Russian naval vessels, most notably with the use of Neptune land-based anti-ship cruise missiles to sink the Moskva, Russia’s Black Sea flagship. That success has led to calls for supplying Ukraine with similar modern Western weapons.

To that end, allies United Kingdom and Denmark have signaled they have or will deliver the Harpoon anti-ship missile to Ukraine. While such weapons help to raise the cost for Russia, they don’t remove the threat. Russian submarines are increasingly launching cruise missile attacks and can easily shift to attacking shipping in the Black Sea without being threatened by these missiles. Something else is needed for this sort of threat.

Should attacking Russia’s surface warships not raise the costs high enough, neutralizing its Black Sea submarines might be required. Given Russia’s primary control of the airspace and the fact that Ukraine does not have a capable anti-submarine force, this will be a tall order.

That said, the time may be right to dust off past recommendations to modify the Anti-Submarine Rocket (ASROC) for shore launch with extended ranges. The missile’s current range is too short making its utility in that role limited but familiar to numerous allied nations that operate them. Such an idea is not new; in a November 2020 article, the commandant of the Marine Corps argued for a similar capability in a war with China. For Ukraine it could be viable in the long term, assuming adequate targeting and weapon range.

While there is a valid sense of urgency in ending the war and averting a food crisis, it must not be done on Russia’s terms. But even if the war ended tomorrow, until sea mines are removed, shipping in the north Black Sea will not resume.

Here allies with minesweepers and access to the Black Sea—like Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, and even Germany via the Danube River—can play an important role in supporting Ukraine. While hostilities are ongoing, having those countries engaged in minesweeping is high risk; more prudent is to provide such capabilities for Ukraine to use in its waters as Black Sea nations clear and patrol their own.

In the meantime, nations should look at ways to alleviate the loss of Ukrainian and Russian grains and fertilizer and pursue diplomatic solutions to allow Ukrainian shipping of food, while at the same time helping Ukraine raise the cost of Russia’s blockade.

As long as Russia can damage Ukraine’s economy by preventing its ability to export many of its agricultural products, Kyiv will face challenges. Raising the costs for Russia is one way to bring the blockade and the war to an earlier end.

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