•  Mr. Speaker, the Russian bear is back, seeking to devour his neighbors and reclaim his kingdom. Mr. Putin, or the Napoleon of Siberia as I like to call him, yearns for the glory days of the Soviet Union when the great communist empire extended from Latvia in the north to Tajikistan in the south. Putin is systematically reestablishing the Soviet Empire, but this time with Putin as king.

  • In November 2013, Putin bribed the then President of Ukraine with a payment of $15 billion in exchange for cutting off negotiations with the European Union that would have integrated Ukraine more into the West.

  • When then President Yanukovych accepted the bribe, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians took to the streets in peaceful protest. With the loss of the support of the people, in February 2014 the corrupt President left his gilded palace, resigned his position, and retreated back to Russia.

  • The people of Ukraine elected a new government who would represent their desire to be free and move closer to the West.

  • Putin did not like this one bit. So, he sent in his henchmen, first in Crimea and then in towns in eastern Ukraine, to stir unrest. Then in came the Russian troops to ``protect'' the ethnic Russians from the crisis that Putin created.

  • We have seen this movie before. The Russians are doing the same thing to the Ukrainians in 2014 as they did to the Georgians in 2008.

  • In 2008, I was in Georgia just after the Russians invaded. Georgia was moving closer and closer to the West. Russia did not like this, so it decided to create instability. It sent in its henchmen to cause trouble. Then Putin sent in Russia troops and tanks to stop the trouble it created. Six years later, the Russians are still there.

  • This winter, the Russian bear is not going to go into hibernation. Mr. Putin is going to dial up the pressure. He knows how reliant much of Europe is on Russian energy. When the weather gets colder, much of Europe will be at the mercy of Putin in order to stay warm. Putin is not afraid to use energy as leverage. I know because I was in Ukraine when Russia turned off the gas in 2006. It was cold. Unless Europe diversifies, it is only going to become more reliant on Russian gas.

  • We have an easy solution to this. The United States is in the midst of an energy revolution. We have more natural gas than we can use. In fact, natural gas is being left in the ground and burnt off at the well head because producers have no domestic buyers. There is a glut in the market. But the government, that institution that always seems to get in the way, says producers cannot sell the gas abroad without permission first from the Department of Energy. The Department of Energy is like any government bureaucracy--slow as molasses. Meanwhile, the Europeans are months away from being subject to Russian blackmail.

  • That's why I introduced H.R. 4155, the Fight Russian Energy Exploitation (FREE) Act. The bill would free up our gas to go to the former Soviet states like Ukraine and countries in the European Union. Our allies want our gas and are willing to pay for it. If we sell our gas to them, it means more money injected into our economy and more American jobs. It is so simple you wonder why it has not been done already.

  • Putin is in this for the long-term. Russian troops are still in Ukraine and just like in Georgia, they have no plans on leaving. If the Ukrainian government is not going to move towards Russia, then Putin has decided he is going to make them as weak and unstable as possible so they cannot move towards the West in any meaningful way.

  • The Russians cannot be trusted. Back in 1994, in exchange for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons, Russia promised to respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine. The B Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances was just a piece of paper to the Russians. So much for diplomacy and trusting the Russia bear not to eat more territory.

  • Appeasement is not the answer. Russia will keep taking as much as the West is willing to let them. Who knows who could be next--Latvia, Estonia, Moldova? What then? When will the West decide enough is enough?

  • The United States and Europe must come together. It is together that we can offer tough sanctions that will deal a big blow to Putin. As we tighten the economic noose around the Russia bear, we should loosen our ban on the export of crude oil and cut the red tape so we can export more natural gas to our European partners. We should also stand behind President Poroshenko with meaningful economic and military aid. He is doing all he can to prevent the Russians from taking over more of his country, but he cannot do it alone.

  • Winter is coming. Free people that want to remain free, better take heed.

  • And that's just the way it is.