The World Must do More than Just Reject Putin’s Sham Annexation
As Russian troops were forced out of the key strategic Ukrainian town of Lyman, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the annexation of four parts of eastern Ukraine including Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia.
The world’s response was quick and sharp, with both the Biden administration and the European Union warning they would not recognize Russia’s move. A White House statement, published shortly thereafter, said Russia is “violating international law, trampling on the United Nations Charter, and showing its contempt for peaceful nations everywhere.”
The statement, which said Russia’s actions “have no legitimacy,” emphasized that the United States “will always honor Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders.”
The Biden administration also announced new sanctions, which, according to the White House, “will impose costs on individuals and entities — inside and outside of Russia — that provide political or economic support to illegal attempts to change the status of Ukrainian territory.”
But it is not enough and more must be done.
Russia must be castigated at the United Nations and kicked off of all committees. It must be removed from the UN Security Council and banned from attending or hosting meetings in the building. All Russian diplomats should immediately have their visas revoked, and should become persona non grata and be sent home.
The U.S. and European nations must level even harsher sanctions against Russia and especially against all high-level diplomatic, military, and political officials, as well as anyone else involved in enabling the war against Ukraine. The U.S. should publish images and locations of the lavish homes and private property that Putin and his cronies own to let the Russian people know the level of graft and corruption that pervades their society.
Considering that Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov, a key Putin ally, suggested on Saturday that the Russian president should use “low-yield” nuclear weapons in Ukraine after Ukrainian soldiers retook Lyman, it has become even more urgent to ensure Russia’s war on Ukraine does not escalate and become even deadlier than it already is. Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has also suggested, dangerously, that Russia may need to resort to nuclear weapons.
While Western sanctions failed to stop Putin twice already, once in 2014, when Putin illegally annexed Crimea during the Obama administration, and now in February, when Putin invaded Ukraine, Russia can still be punished. Putin can be made to understand that his Soviet ambitions are futile and not worth the effort. Europe can and should immediately place a ban on importing Russian natural gas – a move that would help cripple Russia’s economy. Europe has other options, such as the Mediterranean countries, from which it can source natural gas.
China and India should also feel the wrath of the U.S. and Europe if they continue to enable Putin. They, too, should face trouble at the UN and the diplomats and representatives of those countries should also have their visas revoked and sent home. The message must be clear: If you side with Russia on invading Ukraine, another UN member state, you will face severe consequences.
The Quad, an Indo-Pacific alliance comprising the United States, India, Japan, and Australia, should be used as a tool to counter Russia. The alliance could place pressure on China in other areas, such as on the Taiwan issue, in order to get China to comply on the Russian front.
Europe should develop a long-term plan to reduce its dependence on imported Russian gas, incorporate more countries into NATO (such as Ukraine, Kosovo, Georgia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina), and find alternative energy sources as well. If need be, Europe can also punish China by bringing manufacturing back to Europe. The United States can and should do the same.
These are just some of the numerous ways both the U.S. and Europe can work together to fight Russia’s astounding aggression and belligerence. Putin should be brought to bear for his actions and not be allowed to get away with his sham annexation, or the initial invasion in February. The U.S. and Europe should avoid appearing timid and instead, demonstrate firm resolve to stop Putin.