Senator McCain says "Russia is a Gas Station Masquerading as a Country"

December 2, 2014 Update
Statement by Senator McCain on cancellation of the South Stream gas pipeline project

With the support of the United States, the European Union should move quickly to mount a serious effort to secure non-Russian supplies of gas to Europe and prevent Putin from using energy as political leverage once and for all. To this end, the United States has a critical role to play in helping to liberate our allies from Russia’s stranglehold on the European natural-gas market. Cheap and abundant American resources have helped lower prices globally, but while Putin sells oil and gas freely around the world, we impose major restrictions on selling our energy to all but a few. That is why I have sponsored the North Atlantic Energy Security Act, legislation that will deploy our own natural resources to weaken the Putin regime and strengthen our allies in Europe. America’s energy sector has the potential to serve as a hugely important asset that could be used to bolster the economy, serve U.S. foreign policy objectives, and strengthen our national security and the security our allies around the world.

June 16, 2014 UPDATERussia’s Gazprom says Ukraine fails to pay debt by deadline Reuters

From Democracy Now! Russia Cuts Off Gas Supply to Ukraine; Separatists Down Ukrainian Jet

Ukraine says Russia has cut off its gas supply amid a dispute over payment. Russia’s state-owned oil firm Gazprom had demanded upfront payments from Ukraine after it failed to repay debts. Gazprom said it would continue supplying gas to other countries in Europe. Tensions between Russia and Ukraine rose over the weekend as pro-Russian separatists shot down a Ukrainian military transport plane, killing 49 people on board. On Friday, the Obama administration accused Russia of sending tanks and other heavy weapons to the separatists, a move it called “unacceptable.”

 From The Daily Mail  ‘A gas station masquerading as a country!’: Senator McCain demands sanctions of Russia as he calls out Obama’s weak response to Crimea crisis

Republican Senator John McCain labeled Russia as nothing but a ‘gas station masquerading as a country’ in a television appearance Sunday where he called out president Obama’s ‘disturbing lack of realism’ in dealing with the crisis in Crimea.

Just back from a visit to Ukraine, McCain urged the Obama administration to do more. He called for military assistance to Ukraine, resumption of development of a U.S. missile defense system for Eastern Europe and steps toward NATO membership for Georgia and Moldova.

From Mediaite

“There’s a myriad of steps that we can take, and it will be interesting to see to what degree our European friends will join us who are dependent on Russian energy supplies,” McCain said.

When McCain first said this, and others repeated it, challenging Russia’s strategic role in the world, many in the media portrayed this as a zing, a critique of Russian petrochemical diplomacy.

However I am starting to see this instead as JEALOUSY of Russia’s natural gas exports, as opposed to solely a strategic criticism of their power.

From Politico (emphasis is mine)

Sen. John McCain lit into Russia and President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, describing Russia as “a gas station masquerading as a country” on the Senate floor.

While most of their colleagues were at a party lunch, McCain and Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) took a broadside to Putin and Russia, portraying the country’s government as little other than a petrochemical exporter.

But in addition to their zingers, the hawkish GOP stalwarts also raised grave concerns that Putin will be emboldened by the easy manner in which the Crimean Peninsula was seized by Russia. They worry that Moldova, or Eastern Ukraine could be next.

Hitler reference thanks to Senator Lindsey Graham (emphasis mine)

The value system of Mr. Putin is that of a KGB colonel,” Graham said. “I understand where he is coming from because of his value system. I just don’t agree with it. But what we can’t do is let him affect those who are living around him who want to go a different path, because the day you begin to do that, it never works out well. In World War II, every time somebody gave Hitler a little of this and a little of that, eventually it never works out well.

Russia responded to the economic sanctions and escalating rhetoric by banning US officials from Russia

From Bloomberg News

Russia banned a U.S. senator pushing shale-gas exports from entering the country as part of a reaction to Treasury sanctions over the annexation of Crimea.

Senator Mary Landrieu was named on a list of U.S. officials on the Kremlin’s website today that also included Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes and Senator John McCain.
Sen Landrieu joins call for US gas exports

Landrieu is scheduled to lead hearings in Washington next week on expanding liquefied natural gas exports from shale formations, a move that would bring U.S. producers into competition with Russian monopoly exporter OAO Gazprom (GAZP) to supply Europe. 

Landrieu’s home state of Louisiana is the location of the only gas-export terminal to begin construction so far.

Treasury today announced additional sanctions to punish President Vladimir Putin and his allies after Russia sent troops into Ukraine, a key gas-transit route to Europe, and annexed the Crimean peninsula. Targets named on Treasury’s list include Gennady Timchenko, founder of Swiss oil trader Gunvor Group Ltd.

Gas exports to the EU, which gets about 30 percent of its supplies from Russia, have been halted twice since 2006 due to disputes with Ukraine.

Obama pledges support as well (let’s see what he actually DOES though)

U.S. President Barack Obama pledged to step up cooperation with Europe on energy in a White House briefing on the Ukraine crisis today.

Other Republicans in Congress and in the media have also suggested that America supply Europe with natural gas, so that Europe can cut ties with Russia and still have a supply of natural gas, from America.

Chris Hayes discussed why the prospects of America supplying gas to Europe in place of Russia are unfeasible, at least in the near future—building infrastructure to export gas to Europe would take 10 years.

Another aspect of this policy is the Keystone XL pipeline.

For instance why is “Fargo” McCain’s “favorite movie?” Keystone XL of course! (Trust me I wish I was kidding)

From Roll Call March 18, 2014

The Republican told a town hall meeting in his home state of Arizona on Tuesday that the 1996 Coen Brothers classic “Fargo,” which won multiple Academy Awards, is his favorite. McCain’s quip came in response to a question about the slow-moving approval process for the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

“It’s still stalled in the Obama administration,” McCain said of the pipeline, before praising the economic boom in North Dakota as a result of energy production.

“Things that are happening in places like like North Dakota — do you know the unemployment rate in North Dakota today is less than 2 percent? They can’t get anybody to come up there and work, and I won’t go anywhere further with that,” McCain said. ”I happen to love North Dakota. My favorite movie is ‘Fargo’ … which was shot in Minnesota I understand, but anyway.”

and here comes the Russia/Gas Export section (emphasis is mine)

…we are becoming a net energy exporter,” McCain said while also pushing for natural gas exports. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., is leading a push for a natural gas export amendment to a Ukraine aid package.

“If we did the right thing with building terminals, and there is one now in Texas, to export liquid natural gas, we could be sending it to the Europeans to reduce their dependency,” McCain said. “A lot cheaper than what they’re paying the Russians.”

Not too surprisingly, many Republicans are being paid to support these issues by the Gas and Oil industry.  McCain is in the middle, here from January 2012.

From ThinkProgress January 2012

John McCain (R-AZ) $10,000

MOST Richard Burr (R-NC) $43,500

LEAST
Dean Heller (R-NV) $1,000
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) $1,000
Jim Inhofe (R-OK) $1,000
Jeff Sessions (R-AL) $1,000

Here is more of the article

On Monday, 43 Senate Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced legislation to circumvent the Obama administration and approve the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. A ThinkProgress Green analysis reveals at least 35 of the 44 senators backing the proposal have received special interest political action committee contributions from the biggest backers of the pipeline since the start of the 2010 cycle.

the article continues

The most active companies and trade associations lobbying for the pipeline over the last three months were:

  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • ConocoPhillips
  • the Business Roundtable
  • Shell Oil
  • ExxonMobil
  • the American Petroleum Institute
  • the National Association of Manufacturers
  • the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association
  • Deere & Company
  • TransCanada Pipelines
  • Devon Energy

Of those, the PACs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, Deere & Company, and Devon Energy all made contributions to federal candidates over the past three years.

So in conclusion, McCain says

  • Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country
  • We should build the Keystone XL Pipeline
  • McCain doesn’t say that he took $10,000 from gas companies in 2012
  • We should be exporting gas to Europe so they are less dependent on Russian gas exports

Say hello to McCain’s dream of America, a “gas station masquerading as a country.”

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