National Security

Weak Sanctions Won’t Stop Putin

Nikki Haley wants to get tougher.

Image Credit: OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP/Getty Images

 

 

The best way to get at Putin is to strike at his asset of choice, energy. If we can turn off his supply of energy cash we can neuter him. Nikki Haley provides details.

Haley: Heroism is contagious. The heroism of Ukraine’s people and leadership is inspiring the free world to support their cause. Spontaneous pro-Ukraine demonstrations have sprung up all across the world. European governments that didn’t want to be involved are now sending weapons to Ukraine.  Even Germany, Europe’s biggest slacker, is now actively supporting Ukraine. And in the very heart of Moscow, thousands of fair-minded Russians are bravely risking arrest by their own government for protesting Vladimir Putin’s madness.

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The biggest military engagement in Europe since the Second World War is showing us both the worst and the best of humanity. It’s too soon to know how the Russian war against Ukraine will end. But already, more than any other event could have, it is demonstrating the evil nature of the Russian government under Putin. As U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, I witnessed this every day.

I saw the Russians enable chemical weapons attacks against children in Syria and lie about it. I saw the Russians poison an enemy and his daughter in England and lie about it. I saw the Russians lie about their own spies they kept on their staff at the U.N. in New York. This is the nature of Putin’s government. It is barbaric and can never be trusted.

What should America do about that Small but symbolic things are happening. New Hampshire has pulled Russian vodka from its liquor stores. Good for them. Larger symbolic things should happen too. America now sits alongside Russia on the United Nations Human Rights Council. How is that possible? We should demand Russia’s expulsion from any council dedicated to human rights or withdraw from it ourselves if Russia can’t be removed.

In the business of economic sanctions, some are much stronger than others. When I was at the U.N., we passed three sets of massive sanctions against North Korea in response to its illegal nuclear weapons program. Those sanctions put demands on the entire world to cut off most of North Korea’s trade. The Trump administration’s sanctions on Iran brought its oil exports to nearly a complete stop. Those were sanctions with bite. The Biden administration’s initial sanctions against Russia were far too weak. We should do more and do it now.

Two steps would have the biggest impact. Banning Russia from the SWIFT international financial system and sanctioning the Russian oil and gas sector would devastate the Russian economy. Those are powerful enough to get Putin’s attention.

President Biden is moving toward a partial SWIFT cutoff, but with a huge loophole for the energy sector. That’s a mistake. Oil and gas exports are the key to Russia’s economy. Weak sanctions only embolden Putin to think he can get away with whatever he wants.

These steps would impact America and our allies too, particularly in the energy sector. If we want to stand up to Putin, we have to be willing to pay a price. But in fact, it is within our power to dramatically ease that impact. America is energy independent, but we still buy Russian oil. That is insanity. No free country should ever be dependent on Putin for energy, just as we should never be dependent on China for medical supplies. Expanding American energy is a national security imperative.

David Kamioner
meet the author

David Kamioner is a veteran of U.S. Army Intelligence and an honors graduate of the University of Maryland's European Division. He also served with the Pershing Nuclear Brigade and the First Infantry Division. Subsequent to that he worked for two decades as a political consultant, was part of the American Red Cross Hurricane Katrina disaster relief effort in Louisiana, ran a homeless shelter for veterans in Philadelphia, and taught as a college instructor. He serves as a Contributing Editor for LifeZette.

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