Where is the line that needs to be crossed? What is the point at which the West says to Russia: enough?
It seems like there isn’t one, and Russian President Vladimir Putin knows that as long as he doesn’t initiate a nuclear attack, Western democracies are not going to get their hands dirty in Ukraine. That even in the face of evidence Russian troops are carrying out what Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called genocide, the best the West will do is offer condemnation and threaten further sanctions.
Further sanctions? Were we saving some for a rainy day? Were the atrocities already being committed in Ukraine not enough to level every sanction available?
Did Western leaders need to see the mass graves and burned bodies left behind by Russian troops? Did they need to hear the mayor of Bucha say that “dogs are pulling apart the bodies on the city streets?” Or the accounts of Ukrainian girls being gang-raped and mothers being sexually assaulted in front of their children?
Because this is what is being reported from towns that Russian troops have abandoned as they flee to other parts of the country. The cities of Trostyanets and Bucha have become scenes of the kind of barbarism the West vowed would never be tolerated again after the defeat of Adolf Hitler and Nazism.
But it is happening again – and we are allowing it to happen.
While Mr. Putin’s men continue to murder and pillage, the West talks about more sanctions and kicking Russia out of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Does anyone think that is going to keep Mr. Putin awake at night?
When Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly says, “Canada will not spare any effort, including investigation of war crimes, to ensure that those responsible are held to account,” do you think the Kremlin cares? Does anyone believe that those men responsible for shooting innocent people after tying their hands behind their back are going to face trial some day for their actions?
Even if the Russians retreat, and the soldiers return to their homes, is someone going to find out who slaughtered innocent civilians in Chernihiv or Mariupol, or who fired missiles into a maternity hospital or children’s cancer ward?
Meantime, we talk about more sanctions, a strategy that so far has done little to dissuade Mr. Putin from his war aims.
Wasn’t the Russian economy supposed to have been brought to its knees by now, its ruble reduced to rubble, in the words of U.S. President Joe Biden? Seems Mr. Putin has found a way, at least temporarily, to bring the ruble back to life. And we can thank much of Europe for that.
Europe puts as much as US$850-million a day into Mr. Putin’s coffers to pay for its oil and gas orders. Thanks to high energy prices, the Russian energy behemoth Gazprom injected more than US$9-billion into the country’s economy in the past month alone, according to a story in The New York Times, which attributed the information to Oxford Economics, a global advisory firm.
Decisions to freeze Russian central bank assets and cut certain financial institutions off from the SWIFT international payment system did not force Mr. Putin to cry uncle in the way that some predicted. Russia’s economy seems to be doing just fine, at least for now.
Mr. Putin has proven himself to be a sadistic butcher in the tradition of Hitler and Stalin, and yet the West is still doing business with him. He is carrying out war crimes, and yet Russia is still a member of the G20 and the UN Human Rights Council. Years of concessions and appeasement of Russia has helped lead to this moment. Canada, among other countries, has continued to refuse to expel Russian diplomats.
That’s unconscionable. Our excuses and cowardice amount to complicity in this tragedy.
The Moscow Monster knew sanctions were coming and worked them into his war equation. He also knew he held a couple of important cards: He has nukes – more than any country on Earth. The West fears them, and the Russian leader has fed off that fear all along. He also knew that nearly 40 per cent of the natural gas used every day in the European Union comes from his country, and that no one wants to be plunged into darkness on a moment’s notice.
Mr. Zelensky, meantime, is still being forced to beg for fighter jets and air defence systems to help his brave fighters to win this war. Western leaders are too busy with other things, it seems – such as standing by and watching these atrocities happen.
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