The US’s “sanctions” against 7 Russian officials are a pathetic travesty. The only thing more pathetic is that the Euros omitted the two most important names (Surkov and Rogozin) from their list.
These completely ineffectual measures, which impose no real costs on the real decision makers, or on Russia, will only embolden Putin, rather than deter him.
The administration says that these are the most comprehensive measures imposed on Russia since the end of the Cold War (which is duh-obvious since none have been imposed since the end of the Cold War), and intimates that this is part of a strategy of gradual escalation.
First: yeah, gradual escalation worked out so well for LBJ and McNamara. Hard men, like Ho Chi Minh and Putin, see “gradual escalation” as a confession of weakness.
Second: what’s the next step in l’escalier? The Comfy Chair?
This is beyond feckless. Victoria Nuland said “F*ck the EU” because of its pusillanimity in Ukraine. By her logic, “F*ck the US” is completely appropriate.
To give you an indication of how devastating these “sanctions” were, Russian stocks rallied around 5 percent on the news.
Several of the “targets” took to Twitter to express their disdain. For instance, Rogozin the Ridiculous said something I agreed with for the first time ever.
Relatedly, Russia has laid down its conditions for Ukraine. These essentially involve Russia dictating Ukraine’s constitutional order. Specifically, Russia demands a return to the February 21 agreement, and an imposition of a federal structure on Ukraine, in which regions would have substantial autonomy. Autonomy which would, no doubt, allow these regions to follow Crimea’s example and vote to join Russia.
If I were Ukraine, I would say: You first. You call yourself the Russian Federation. If a true federal structure is so great, Russia should give its various republics and autonomous regions true autonomy, including the right to vote themselves out of the RF. Sauce for the goose and all that.
Unfortunately, based on the administration’s utter fecklessness and pusillanimity so far, I would imagine that Obama and Kerry will give (or already have given) Ukraine the same advice that Bobby Knight related to Connie Chung years ago.
Obama is notoriously the most thin-skinned president in recent memory. Yet Russians mock him repeatedly, without eliciting any reaction, except for maybe “thank you sir, may I have another?”
Usually appeasers eventually wake up when it becomes apparent that their appeasement has only encouraged the object of the policy to take more, more, more. Carter woke up. Even Chamberlain eventually woke up.
Obama and the Euros? Still lost in their dreams, while Putin inflicts a nightmare on the borders of NATO and the EU.