April 8, 2021
League of Ukrainian Canadians
Over the last few weeks Putin has put Ukraine back in the news with his propaganda and massive military buildup in northern Crimea and along Ukraine’s eastern border. None of this should be a surprise. Putin tests the United States and the West and makes his malevolent decisions based upon the reactions he sees. A new American President, a new test, all quite predictable.
What should not be predictable is the American reaction and the Ukrainian reaction.
Admittedly cynical and not completely accurate, the past is full of Ukraine pretending to reform and the United States pretending to support.
It is time – long past time – to get serious.
Putin’s probing requires immediate action, and, at the same time, Ukraine needs to focus internally on its chronic failures – only Ukraine can save Ukraine.
As for immediate action to get Putin’s attention, we do not claim to be experts but believe the U.S. should be doing a number of things.
We have never been of the view Putin’s Nord Stream 2 should preoccupy Ukraine specifically, but it should be stopped now, for good.
Let Germany get over it. What was it thinking? What are any other European supporters thinking? Russia is the destabilizing threat to Europe and its alliances. Oil is Russia’s economy. We cannot allow Nord Stream 2 to prop up Putin’s economy. Stop it now.
The U.S. should make the arguments against the pipeline global headlines and it should sanction the ships currently doing the work on the pipeline, their insurers, their lenders, and anything and everything else connected to the Russian effort.
It would be great if others followed but the United States should not wait.
Additional focused sanctions on critical financial institutions in Russia would get Putin’s attention. Clamp down on his economy. Make him suffer, raise the cost of his aggression.
A comprehensive strategy for the security of the Black Sea region should be a top Pentagon priority undertaken. And, in the meantime, we should be announcing and conducting as soon as possible joint training – land, sea and air training — with Ukraine establishing a much more significant presence in and around the Black Sea.
The details should be in the hands of the experts, but visible, immediate actions need to be taken. Putin needs to feel the pinch to his pipeline dreams and see a serious American-led effort to secure the Black Sea region.
Ukraine may be in Mr. Putin’s neighborhood, but it is not “his” neighborhood.
And forget Minsk and the Normandy format and these endless no-win diplomatic board games. The United States – with certain Ukrainian agreement – should announce that it will be a part of any future discussions on ending Russia’s war against Ukraine. And, the U.S. should ask Great Britain – an original signatory to the Budapest Memorandum – to join any and all such discussions.
And, as for Ukraine, it is time Kyiv gets serious and committed to its Soviet legacy of corruption.