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Putin is a 'young Joe Stalin': Boone Pickens

Russian President Vladimir Putin's hold the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine could pose a serious energy risk to Europe, oilman T. Boone Pickens told CNBC on Tuesday.

"Putin is, as far as I'm concerned, he's just a young Joe Stalin, a little smoother. He runs circles around us," Pickens said in a "Squawk Box" interview.

(Read more: Yanukovich: Army will ignore 'criminal orders')

In a warning last week reminiscent of 2009, Gazprom—Russia's state-run natural gas company—said it could stop shipping gas to Ukraine over unpaid bills, like it did five years ago. At that time, it led to reductions in supplies of Russian gas to Europe during a cold winter.

In a commentary this week, Pickens described the potential risk:

"Russia is the world's second-largest supplier of oil and has tremendous power over the market. While America's oil and natural gas industry has achieved stunning increases in domestic production, this has done nothing to alleviate our vulnerability to foreign oil. ... This dangerous dependence makes us just as vulnerable to state-sponsored energy-terrorism as Ukraine, which is why we can't liberate Europe from its dependence until we've freed ourselves first."

The U.S. is exploring ways to provide energy assistance to Ukraine and Europe should Russia cut-off supplies, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing last week.

Pickens agreed that U.S. natural gas should be shipped overseas, but said it won't be possible for perhaps two more years. "The first big LNG [liquefied natural gas] loads will go out of Lake Charles [Louisiana] I think they say in late 2015. I'd say 2016."

(Read more: Ukraine standoff intensifies; Russia says sanctions will' boomerang')

Exporting natural gas makes sense, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, told CNBC in a separate interview Tuesday. "I think Boone Pickens is exactly right."

Portman, a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said the U.S can immediately help Ukraine with its nuclear power capabilities.

"About 50 percent of their electricity comes from the nuclear side. And they get all their enriched Uranium from Russia. One thing we have in this country is the ability to enrich uranium and also to provide that to the Ukraine so they are not dependent on Russia."

Keystone pipeline

Domestically, the long-delayed Keystone oil pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to Nebraska should be approved, Pickens said.

"We're nuts not to take it," he said. "I can't believe that. Six years you've had a Christmas present on the front porch."

The northern portion would link up to the southern leg from Oklahoma to Texas, which opened in January.

President Barack Obama will have the final say.

(Read more: I'd vote 'yes' on Keystone pipeline: Warren Buffett)

In January, the State Department concluded TransCanada's proposed pipeline would not unduly worsen climate change. Environmentalist have challenged that assertion. Eight different U.S. federal agencies will have a chance to weigh in over the next few months.

Pickens has been pushing his energy independence "Pickens Plan" since 2008. "We tried in Washington to get something done. We are now working at the state level."

—By CNBC's Matthew J. Belvedere. Follow him on Twitter @Matt_SquawkCNBC. Reuters contributed to this article.

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