Gen. Jim Jones: "Strategic use of energy" could curb Russia's behavior

By: CBS
By: CBS

New York, NY (CBS) - Energy could be a major player in the Ukraine crisis going forward, according to retired Marine Corps Gen. Jim Jones, a former NATO commander in Europe.

The former Obama's national security adviser said "the strategic use of energy" could affect Russia's behavior in the future.

Russia, the world's largest exporter of natural gas, has a hold on Ukraine, which needs the resource. However, "CBS This Morning" co-host Norah O'Donnell noted, the U.S. has recently become the world's largest producer of the fuel, but still faces many restrictions on exporting.

Jones said things could change if the U.S. changes those restrictions. "Mr. Putin has no qualms about using energy as a weapon," Jones said. "We see it as a vehicle to peace and prosperity. The Europeans are dependent to the tune of about 30 percent on Russian gas and oil. And we have technology that is transforming our own economy in fracking for oil shale and oil gas.

"We can work with the Europeans to make them less dependent on Russian energy, which is what they want, by the way," Jones continued. "And I think that this is a long-term strategic tool that we can use to dissuade future Russian behavior along these lines."

Though Jones said he hopes for a diplomatic end to the Ukrainian crisis, he said everything should be on the table, including military intervention. He said, "This is a moment now where actions are required and words should be chosen very carefully."

As for Russian President Vladimir Putin, Jones said the U.S. should give him the opportunity to back out. "There is no question that Mr. Putin is playing out his role as he sees his own history, as he understands his history, which is quite different from the way we look at history books," Jones said. "And I think that you do have to allow for the fact that he may conclude that he might have overreached."

An opportunity that may come out of Ukraine, according to Jones, is shoring up allied support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO. "The Baltic States are very nervous," Jones said. "We can do a lot to reassure them. Mr. Putin has manipulated parliamentary decisions in Bulgaria and Romania on anti-fracking legislation. They're occupying the two ports in Crimea that would be (liquefied natural gas) ports for the Ukraine. As a matter of fact, shale oil and gas is plentiful in Ukraine, but not in Russia."

Critics of the situation in Ukraine say that the U.S. could have somehow gotten the European Union to accelerate the relationship with Ukraine and that would have helped avoid the current crisis, Charlie Rose noted.

Jones replied, "Well, today NATO is meeting with a Russian council and this is a council that's existed for many years. I think NATO membership for Ukraine, for Moldova, for Georgia, is something that might be accelerated in the future."

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