How to Deal with a Bully?
Why, you tell him that if he doesn’t stop, you’re going to tell his mother! Vladimir Putin has annexed a piece of a formerly sovereign neighbor, the Ukrainian province of Crimea. Our response: sanctioning eleven peripheral Russian and Ukrainian politicians, many of whom have no foreign financial holdings: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304747404579445171323503270?mod=hp_opinion&mg=reno64-wsj
The logic of what Putin is doing applies with equal force to the Baltic states, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. There are lots of “homeless Russians” in those places, “intimidated” by the free societies around them.
Our US policy so far seems to be premised on the fact that Putin has made some kind of mistake in Crimea: we’re providing him face-saving “off ramps” before we get really serious.
In case anyone hasn’t noticed, Putin’s actions come after the President’s budget announced massive US defense cuts and after our embarrassing failure to stop his murderous proxy, Bashar Al-Assad, from slaughtering his Syrian countrymen. Putin knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s made a correct judgment that we have no stomach to confront him. We’re almost daring him to go further.
He and his cronies have made tens of billions in private wealth selling the west natural gas and oil. Managing their wealth, which is kept in the west in dollar-denominated assets, has generated tens of millions in fees for western bankers. We’ve got a huge opportunity to help the rest of Europe wean itself from Russian energy sources by opening up energy exports to the EU.
We will know we’ve actually struck Russian nerves when we attack the sources of their wealth, and the ruble descends to the level of the Argentinian peso. We will actually strike Russian nerves when we sanction the billionaires around Putin and Putin himself. (We’ve already given them weeks of “off ramp” time to move their money). Putin is betting that the west is too irresolute to sacrifice our wealth to stop him. Let’s see if he’s right.