In the year 2000, Russia elected Vladimir Putin because the Mafia and a few Oligarchs ran basically everything in the chaos of post Soviet Russia and the people wanted a break from the corruption. My family and I lived there 1998-2000 and I witnessed it personally.
2008 – Putin invades the Republic of Georgia and takes what he wants. President Bush verbally rebukes Putin, a man he said he trusted after “looking into his eyes” while hosting him at the Bush estate in Texas.
2014 – Putin invades Crimea and takes what he wants. President Obama scolds him for this forceful annexation after being caught on a hot mic sending a message to Putin in 2012 that he would “have more flexibility” in military negotiations “after [his] re-election.”
2021 – Putin secures China’s blessing and their economic support to militarily annex Ukraine, as long as they agree to do it after the conclusion of the Olympics so as not to disrupt China’s moment in the sun. Days after the Olympics, Putin invades and China remains squarely on his side.
2022(?) – The Democratic West (USA, UK, Germany, France, all of NATO and others) must absolutely annihilate the economy of Russia and destabilize the country as punishment for their authoritarian invasion of Ukraine. We should also threaten the economy of China as an accomplice to this crime while we still have some leverage or another Cold War/World War could easily break out with the Axis Powers of Russia, China and Iran VS the Allied Powers of USA, UK, Germany, France, and others.
Having many friends in Russia from my time there in the 1990’s, it is hard to say these words knowing Russian citizens who oppose the war will also suffer under these sanctions. However, I don’t see another viable exit ramp. The international community has to make it as miserable in Russia via economic sanctions as it is in Ukraine under military bombardment, and we have that ability if we can find the courage to execute on it. Plus, Russia is very large geographically, eight time zones wide, so if the economy goes into free fall it will be very hard for an authoritarian leader to control demonstrations across all of that territory and remain in power, even a leader as ruthless as Putin. Otherwise, Putin takes Ukraine and sets his eyes upon Moldova, and then prepares to take on NATO.
This issue is complex and of major import and will affect more than gas prices in our future. If you want to hear some very intelligent analysis of where we are and how we got here, I highly recommend this podcast by Bari Weiss where she hosts a roundtable of great minds looking for the right answers.