WASHINGTON, March 18 (UPI) -- Support for Ukraine and U.S. allies in Eastern Europe should come in the form of liquefied natural gas, U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., said.
Gardner introduced a bill last week that would grant immediate approval for export applications for LNG from the United States. Federal law requires a review of public interest before approving LNG exports to countries without a U.S. free-trade agreement.
Gardner said in a statement Russian influence in Eastern Europe could be contained through increased LNG exports from the United States
"Taking action on exports would weaken [Russia's] grip by sending a clear signal to our allies that they no longer have to be at the mercy of Russian energy supplies," he said Monday.
European consumers get about a quarter of their gas needs met by Russia, though the majority of that supply runs through the Soviet-era pipeline network in Ukraine.
President Obama slapped Russian officials with sanctions for military action in Ukraine. Gardner said it would take more than that to counter Russia's influence over the Eastern European gas market.
"[Support for Ukraine] should include unlocking U.S. natural gas supplies to help free Ukraine and other European nations from Russia's influence," he said.