Not since 9/11 has unprovoked hostility been so clearly defined as good versus evil. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has, if nothing else, avoided the usual quirks of who started what or who is the victim and who is the aggressor. On one side is Ukraine, a sovereign nation. the second largest land mass in Europe. On the other, Russia’s authoritarian leader, Vladimir Putin, with a huge army and a desperate desire to return his country to the days of the Soviet Union.
Even his cover story for this extraordinary military action – including a claim of ‘peacekeeping’ support for the ‘breakaway’ regions of Donetsk and Luhansk – was so flimsy that one wonders why he gave himself up. the penalty. The absurdity culminated when Putin explained in a televised address on February 24 that his goal was the “denazification” of Ukraine, a country currently ruled by Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Jewish grandson of a Holocaust survivor. .
In Baltimore, as everywhere in the United States, the only serious questions people are asking today are how best to support Ukraine and punish Russia and whether the economic sanctions announced by President Joe Biden are tough enough. . The appetite to engage in direct military confrontation and put US troops in the line of fire, meanwhile, is low enough. And while there were certainly hints about whether the United States had done enough to support Ukraine after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, when the last two presidents refused military aid from this country, that kind of doubt is like worrying about US military readiness before Pearl Harbor. Let the historians make their judgement. What people really want to know is what happens next?
Putting economic pressure on Russia has a lot of appeal. The threat of sanctions may not have deterred Putin initially, but it’s clear he made serious miscalculations. First, that the level of resistance in Ukraine would prove as deadly as it has so far, but second, that NATO members and others would be prepared to impose sanctions far beyond everything that was considered after the Crimea. True, the top of this list kicks Russia out of the SWIFT global banking payment system, which has already led to a sharp drop in the ruble and the stock market of this country. Even Germany, a country with an understandable aversion to military spending after World War II and a reliance on Russian energy, decided to throw at least 100 billion euros on its armed forces.
But make no mistake, imposing sanctions on Russia will not be painless for the rest of the world. It won’t be as simple as pouring Russian vodka down the drain or lamenting the recent vandalism at St. Michael’s Ukrainian Catholic Cemetery in Dundalk, as heinous as the tossing of 49 headstones last week might have been. .
And it will certainly take more than posting blue and yellow messages of support on social media that symbolize the Ukrainian flag. Isolating Russia means that buyers of Russian products are also affected. And that could include oil and gas, a major Russian export.
Some Republicans, including the 45th president, would have Americans believe that the United States could pump the world out of evil on the energy front. But the reality is much more complicated. While US energy production, particularly natural gas, has certainly increased over time, this dream of energy “independence” is largely a mirage. And draining American resources to the last drop as quickly as possible isn’t really a long-term solution to anything, especially given the threat of climate change. Better to do exactly what President Biden seeks to do: inflict as much harm as possible on the Russian economy and on Putin and his allies while sparing other nations as much collateral damage as possible; support the peace talks, but don’t be intimidated by Putin’s nuclear saber slashes.
Symbolic actions have their place (and graveyard vandals are well worth prosecuting). Americans could also donate to the various charities that help Ukrainians (the International Committee of the Red Cross, Baltimore-based Catholic Relief Services and Save the Children among them). But what is perhaps most needed is to reflect the kind of determination that Ukrainians show every day in the fight against this invasion. If that means higher prices at the pump, worsening inflation or an economic slowdown, so be it. We are all Ukrainians now.
— The Baltimore Sun