President Barack Obama isn’t the only politician too timid to take meaningful steps vis-à-vis Ukraine and Russia’s invasion of that nation.
From the outset, Europe’s fragile economy and concerns over a crimp in energy supplies have tempered the continent’s response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.
But that’s the thing about war: both sides do get hurt, both sides do suffer damage. The only way to limit the damage to one side is to give in to the aggressor. But then the unilateral damage is done the acquiescer, and the aggressor is only encouraged to aggress again.
Regarding the existing “sanctions,” those
…targeting officials close to Mr Putin and a few banks and energy firms have already rattled investor nerves in Russia and accelerated the country’s downturn.
The hope here that these will somehow lead to changes in Russia’s behavior (much less Russian withdrawal from the occupied parts of Ukraine) necessarily is predicated on Vladimir Putin and a) how much discomfort he’s willing to absorb in order to achieve his goals and b) how much he cares about any discomfort the Russian people will suffer from “the country’s downturn.” And that contains the forlornly naïve, and erroneous, assumption that Putin’s pain threshold and his people’s threshold held in proxy by him are the same as ours.
Alongside these misunderstandings is another:
“It’s [figuring out what sanctions to apply to Russia] a bit like getting into a fight with your spouse,” says Bryan Carter, a senior vice president at Acadian Asset Management, which manages more than $50 billion in assets for pension funds, governments and other clients. “You want to make your point without damaging anything.”
No, it isn’t a bit like that. This is war. If I’m engaged in a war with my spouse, it’s time for a complete break, anyway.
Just like it’s time regarding Russia.