Importing Russian oil and gas is immoral

Diane Francis

Apr 12, 2022

National Post

The next three weeks are critical for Ukraine as Vladimir Putin prepares an all-out assault against the eastern and southern portions of the country. As a journalist, I have regularly visited Ukraine and have covered it for years with my colleague, and friend, Brian Bonner, former chief editor of Kyiv Post. American-born, he has lived in Kyiv for 26 years. In a video interview this week, he emphasized the immediate need for military help to defend the country from Russia.

“I want to impart a sense of urgency. All the experts are saying Ukraine has just three weeks to get all the jets, weapons, and equipment it needs to prevail. Everyone knows the coming battle is in the southeast of Ukraine from the Donbas all the way to Odesa and the south central Black Sea ports,” he said. “If Ukraine can get the weapons, these people can defeat Putin. But the U.S., NATO, and the West has to stop pussyfooting around. They need to get the weapons in here now. Stop making excuses why they can’t get jets, missiles, and other ammunition to Ukraine. Please.”

Britain, Slovakia, the U.S., the Czech Republic and other NATO countries are now stepping up deliveries. Russia’s ground troops have suffered an estimated 19,200 casualties, according to Ukraine, and have been driven back from Kyiv but reconnoitre in preparation for a final, massive assault. Air attacks, by jets and missiles, continue to pummel and destroy the country, notably in the eastern half that Putin has targeted for acquisition. Drones and tanks and anti-missile systems have been sent, but NATO has held back in sending fighter jets or creating a no-fly zone amid concern that such direct escalation on its part could lead to a nuclear clash.

Bonner doesn’t believe that Putin is “suicidal” or will escalate to nuclear weapons if America weighs in with more assistance. “The U.S. and Russia clashed in Syria without nuclear involvement. Also in Turkey,” he said.  “This is an orgy of killing. Intercepted phone calls back to their (Russian soldiers’) homes show that they’re happy to kill Ukrainians. Soldiers are under orders to shoot anybody they see from people to animals. If you watch Russian television you see the government is promoting the need to bomb the hell out of Ukraine,” said Bonner. “Putin has gone off the rails. He’s the 21st century’s successor to Hitler and Stalin. It doesn’t look like he’s going to back down. He will keep going until he’s stopped.”  “I believe that Ukraine is starting to turn the war around in its favour. They are fighting for their survival. Bucha shows you what can happen when they occupy. Ukraine has a stronger ground force, the support of all civilians and home turf advantage,” he added. “And the bombing can be stopped easily if the right weapons get to Ukraine now.”

Bonner said sanctions have damaged Russia’s economy, but a complete ban on all Russian energy exports is essential because these provide $1 billion a day to finance Putin’s war. “In terms of sanctions, there has been big talk, not enough action. The most important sanction is to cut off Russian oil, gas, and coal and they are taking baby steps.”

The U.S. and Canada have banned Russian oil imports and pledged to produce more oil and gas for export to Europe. But the Canadian federal government is a laggard. Canada is the world’s fourth biggest oil producer at 4.7 million barrels a day, but Ottawa has only approved an increase of 200,000 barrels. Instead, the country should open the taps and ship as much oil and gas to the U.S. as possible for re-export to replace Russian energy in Europe.

The 27 European nations have also dragged their feet in combating Putin. Last week, they agreed to ban Russian coal, but were unable to find agreement to ban oil and natural gas because this will trigger a recession and drive up inflation. “Germany, Austria and others have one excuse after another why they can’t do it,” said Bonner. “They would rather have genocide happen to the Ukrainian people than go through a recession. This is immoral. This is the moral test of the 21st century for all countries,” he said.