When it comes to real sanctions in defense of Ukraine, President
proven far more consistent than any of his Western partners, writes Gazeta
Obama's Sanctions on Russia are the 'Only Real Sanctions' (Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland)
"It is significant that the only country doing anything to directly
defend Ukraine is the United States, which has no interests there whatsoever.
Frankly speaking, Americans didn't care much about Ukraine ... until it became
a victim of Russian aggression. ... Many say that new American sanctions are still too weak, but one must recall that they're the only real sanctions we have, and they create jangled nerves among Moscow politicians, while the Russian stock exchange and ruble have tumbled sharply. Therefore, they are working."
numerous were the complaints when Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea and Barack
Obama announced the first raft of sanctions against Russia! It was said that
the U.S. president was again proving to be a wimp, since he decided merely to
sanction several people from Putin's inner circle.
explained then: "Russian leaders must see that their actions in Ukraine have
consequences, including a weakening of the Russian economy and increasing
diplomatic isolation. If they donít change their behavior, we will move forward
with additional, more severe sanctions."
said these were empty threats, about which Putin simply laughed.
it turned out that Obama was the only Western leader to apply any meaningful
sanctions at all. The countries of Western Europe, Germany and France in
particular, are more concerned about shielding their business interests in
Russia from harm.
Wednesday evening, as Obama was announcing a new set of sanctions, this time
against Russian state companies Rosneft and Gazprom, he repeated exactly the same words.
is significant that the only country doing anything to directly defend Ukraine
is the United States, which has no interests there whatsoever. Frankly
speaking, Americans didn't care much about Ukraine, an inefficient country somewhere
at the far end of Europe, until it became a victim of Russian aggression. Then
Obama went into action. In his own way, of course: cautiously - some would say too
cautiously, but as we saw yesterday, consistently.
stepped in not because he wants to draw Ukraine into an "American sphere
of influence." He has repeated several times that he isn't playing a geopolitical
chess match with Russia and the Cold War has long since ended. Obama decided to
act for two important reasons.
because every nation, including Ukraine, has the right to self determination.
And second: because Russia's aggression threatens the order that has prevailed
in Europe since the end of World War II.
Many say that new American sanctions are still too weak, but one must recall that they're the only real sanctions we have, and they create jangled nerves among Moscow politicians, while the Russian stock exchange and ruble have tumbled sharply. Therefore, they are working.
Obama still has strong cards to play. Although a U.S. embargo on Russia †would have little impact because its trade with
Russia is microscopic, let's recall what happened to the portal WikiLeaks,
which revealed classified communications of the U.S. military, intelligence,
and diplomacy. In retaliation, Washington forced credit card operators Visa and
MasterCard to stop accepting deposits for WikiLeaks' accounts. Imagine what would
happen if Russia faced similar unpleasantness!
why isn't Obama using a big stick when he has it? If he did, the Russians would
likely dig even more into their nationalistic, anti-Western positions, and the U.S.
president would lose all capacity to influence them. On the other hand, a gradual,
unhurried tightening of sanctions, without hysteria or dramatic gestures, has
the advantage of keeping Putin aware at all times that over his head hangs the
hopes that has a sobering effect on him.
course, the chances of containing the conflict in Ukraine would be greater if
there were two sticks hanging over Putin's head - American and European. It
might be worth revisiting this again, in Paris, Berlin, or Warsaw. Particularly
now, when we have to add 295 air passengers from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur to
the list of the conflict's victims.