The Washington Examiner reported that US Internal Secretary Ryan Zinke said that the United States could use its Navy to prevent Russia’s potential energy supplies to the Middle East.
Zinke alleged that Russia’s engagement in Syria is in actuality a pretext to explore new energy markets.
“I believe the reason they are in the Middle East is they want to broker energy just like they do in eastern Europe, the southern belly of Europe,” Zinke reportedly said.
According to Zinke, a US blockade of Russian energy exports is a good way to deal with Russia’s energy distribution…
“The United States has that ability, with our Navy, to make sure the sea lanes are open, and, if necessary, to blockade … to make sure that their energy does not go to market,” he said.
Zinke further stated in Pittsburgh at an event hosted by the Consumer Energy Alliance that “Russia is a one trick pony”.
According to RT, Zinke went on to compare Washington’s approaches to dealing with Russia and Iran, noting that they are effectively the same.
“The economic option on Iran and Russia is, more or less, leveraging and replacing fuels,” he said, while referring to Russia as a “one trick pony” with an economy dependent on fossil fuels.
Zinke’s statements provoked an angry response from Moscow, which equated a potential maritime blockade to an “act of war,” while calling the internal secretary’s assumptions “nonsense.”
“A US blockade of Russia would be equal to a declaration of war under international law,” Russian Senator Aleksey Pushkov said, commenting on Zinke’s words. Russia does not currently export any energy to the Middle East, which itself is a major oil exporting region. The whole idea is an “absolute nonsense,” the Senator argued.
The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the merit and meaning of the US Secretary of the Interior’s comments, and ask the hypothetical, what if the US dared to follow through on Zinke’s naval blockade idea?
Via The Hill…
What does the secretary of the Interior have to do with foreign policy? Well, nothing.
The law that established the Department of Interior gives the secretary widespread authority of major areas, like the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service.
So then why is Zinke publicly discussing U.S. maritime strategy and possible naval deployments against an adversary like Russia?
It’s completely unclear. While we don’t know why Zinke was making this reckless comment, we do know that his words have an impact. At least one senior Russian official has decried Zinke’s proposal as a potential declaration of war.
Earlier this week I wrote to Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer requesting information about the scope of Zinke’s portfolio as it relates to the Navy and Department of Defense — if such a portfolio even exists.
While we have yet to hear from the Defense Department, we know that Zinke is the most scandal-plagued member of the Trump administration. Naval policy aside, he has created numerous crises on issues that are actually his responsiblity.
Just this week, the beloved public lands, access and parks program, Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), expired on his watch, which could lead to the loss of thousands of public land projects across America. He is also allowing millions of acres of critical wildlife habitat to be leased for oil and gas development in a lease sale process that a judge recently ruled did not include the public.
Zinke’s Interior Department has also become a morass of ethical problems, including staff members jumping ship for lucrative oil and gas industry jobs, potentially violating an executive order on ethics. All this while Zinke mysteriously disappeared to Turkey on a two-week vacation.
Zinke should focus on getting his own house in order before interfering further in geopolitical disputes.