Ukraine and Russia have nerves fraying this morning. Many fear a Russian invasion has already begun after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops across the border into eastern Ukraine to “maintain peace” after recognizing the independence of two separatist regions.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said Ukraine won’t give up any land. A US official has said that at this stage Russian troops in Donbas won’t trigger sanctions because it’s “nothing new.”
Another US official has said The United States will continue to pursue diplomacy with Russia until “tanks roll.”
Additional measures aimed at the affected cities will be announced, but separate from a wider set of sanctions that Washington has promised to implement with its allies if Russia invades Ukraine.
This all in mind, the airspace around Ukraine is currently making the beleaguered country look like a drunk guy at a party. You know: the dude who drinks too much and creates his own force field of dickhead comments and beer breath (even though in this case it’s not Ukraine’s fault no one is flying near, but Russia’s).
It’s worth pointing out this has been the case for some years, ever since Russian rebels shot down passenger plane Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in 2014 as it flew over Eastern Ukraine.
So it’s really not Ukraine’s fault it’s become the aviation equivalent of ‘the obnoxious drunk guy at the party.’ But that’s how it now looks.
With Ukrainian troops facing a powerful enemy on their own land, Western policymakers must quickly respond to a geopolitical nightmare long in the making, The Atlantic Council reports.
John Herbst – senior director of the Council’s Eurasia Center and a former US ambassador to Ukraine – is quoted by The Atlantic Council as saying it is time for strong sanctions.
Herbst said: “Vladimir Putin surprised no one today when he recognized the ‘independence’ of the Donetsk and Luhansk peoples republics, the areas of Ukraine’s Donbas where Moscow engineered a ‘revolt’ against Ukraine’s central authorities.”
“What the United States, NATO, and the European Union do next is extremely important. Putin has committed a substantial provocation. If the West’s response is simply rhetorical, Putin will smell weakness and escalation is likely.”John Herbst
Herbst added: “The West must respond now. That means impose some sanctions immediately—strong sanctions. It appears that the Biden administration will sanction economic activity in the areas Putin just recognized as independent. If that is the extent of the response, the United States will be inviting Moscow’s further escalation. The administration is now saying that there will be additional sanctions for this latest provocation after consultations with allies and partners.”
Herbst then said that the ideal sanctions target should be Nord Stream 2, which Herbst says “the Biden administration should never have permitted to proceed last year.” If not that, Herbst is of the opinion: “the United States must sanction at least one major Russian bank, as well as some of the high-profile figures around the Russian president.”