As the West tries to curb Russia’s thuggish behavior, leaders should look to history for guidance and inspiration.
The US-led effort needs the fog-clearing clarity of an Adlai Stevenson missile-crisis moment. And the Western world needs to display some of the gritty determination that made the Berlin Airlift a success...
...Like the Soviet leaders of that era, President Vladimir Putin is engaged in a campaign of obfuscation. Russian officials have suggested that Ukraine’s military shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. Putin, meanwhile, has tried to blame the hostilities that gave rise to the airline’s downing on Ukraine rather than the rebel movement Russia has encouraged and enabled...
...Europe, meanwhile, urgently needs to grow a backbone. Until recently, sanctions on Russia had consisted mostly of travel bans and freezing the assets of Putin’s inner circle. Tougher measures, which Obama announced last week before the airliner was downed, target arms and energy companies and their financing.
But for those and further sanctions to be fully felt, Europe has to join in. On Tuesday, the European Union demurred.
Why the hesitancy? Some nations have lucrative trade or military contracts with Russia; others worry Russia might respond by closing the spigot on the natural gas they depend on.
That, however, is unlikely. Russia needs the gas revenues as badly as the customers do the gas.
“The Russian economy is essentially a one-trick pony,” says Admiral James Stavridis, dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University and former supreme allied commander at NATO. “If Russia suddenly cut off the gas tap, that would be the equivalent of the Russians hitting themselves in the face with a cast-iron frying pan.”
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