By Kyiv Post
April 9, 2021
Kyiv Post editorials represent the staff leadership’s position on key issues facing Ukraine. Russian dictator Vladimir Putin sent a chemical assassination squad after his main opponent, Alexei Navalny, and poisoned him with a Novichok chemical agent, almost killing him.
After Navalny recovered from coma, he was jailed on trumped-up charges as soon as he returned to Russia. Now he says he’s being tortured in prison. This is what Putin does. Navalny’s poisoning is just the latest in about 20 assassinations and mysterious deaths of Putin’s critics. And even that is only a fraction of Putin’s atrocities. The would-be president-for-life has also invaded Georgia, Ukraine and Syria, killing easily tens of thousands of people — many of them innocent and defenseless civilians.
The West’s response to these actions has been weak so far. Putin is using a wide network of useful idiots and paid agents in the West who promote his agenda. Western countries are reluctant to antagonize Russia due to its size, military might and lucrative trade. They also think it’s better not to push too hard against the Kremlin to leave room for negotiations.
But the main question is: Do the current sanctions work? They obviously don’t.
In spite of all the sanctions, the Kremlin keeps killing its political opponents both in Russia and in the West. Some of the assassinations involved the targeted use of chemical and radiological weapons against British citizens on British soil — something that goes beyond mere murder and constitutes an act of aggression against a NATO country.
The Kremlin also continues killing people in the countries it has invaded — Ukraine and Syria. There have been some exceptions to the West’s strategy of appeasing dictators and terrorists: the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the 2011 military intervention in Libya. Putin has always posed a greater threat than the late Taliban leader Muhammed Omar, Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein and Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. He is vastly more powerful than those three combined.
The best way to stop Putin’s killing spree is to impose truly crippling and painful sanctions — freeze his proxy-run foreign accounts, cut Russia off from the SWIFT payment system, introduce an embargo on Russian oil or ban investors from buying Russian sovereign debt. He should be booted out of international institutions for his war crimes and failure to adhere to democracy. Political-business projects, like Nord Stream 2, should be stopped.
There is the argument that Putin’s regime will still survive sanctions and turn into a North Korea-style hermit kingdom. Maybe. But at least the Kremlin will have less resources and less money to kill opponents and invade other countries.