Saturday, March 1, 2014

Everything but

So what should the West do about Russia's invasion of Ukraine?

It's clear that direct military intervention would be very dangerous, given that Russia is armed to the teeth and has nukes.  That doesn't mean, however, that the West should sit on its hands, as it did with respect to Georgia in 2008.  In Vladimir Putin the world faces an acute threat to its security.  He must be humiliated sufficiently that his own people decide to get rid of him.

Here's some things that should be done:

1.  NATO troops should secure the hinterland of Ukraine, allowing the Ukrainian Army to deploy on the front line.  NATO airpower should be moved from Afghanistan to the Black Sea.  This will dissuade Moscow from further adventures (e.g. trying to create enclaves in the East or around Odessa).

2.  With NATO troops in place, Transnistria should be squeezed out of existence (e.g. by sealing the border).  This will eliminate the threat to Ukraine's back.

3.  Stiff sanctions should be placed on Russia.  These should target the leadership (e.g. through travel bans and banking restrictions).  They should also target Russia's oil and gas exports and inwards investment.  Russia needs to be starved of the wherewithal to keep its military machine running.  I appreciate that this will hurt the Russian people, but I don't see an alternative.

4.  Russian propaganda broadcasts need to be blocked in the Black Sea region.  I know that sounds like clamping down on free speech, however we are in an emergency situation here, and it is important that citizens aren't fed a diet of lies and mis-information.

5.  Russian membership in international organisations (WTO, G8 etc.) should be suspended where there are grounds to do this (e.g. WTO suspension is likely justified by Russia's frequent politicised bans on its neighbours' produce)

6.  FIFA should move the 2018 world cup to another host.  If they fail to do this, democratic nations should boycott it and organise an alternative tournament elsewhere.  Putin should not preside over another major international sporting event.

7.  Efforts to diversify energy sources in Europe (e.g. renewables, shale, pipelines from the Caspian & North Africa) should be redoubled.

If you have other ideas, please enter them as comments.