Zelensky’s address to Congress: Should US ‘do more’?
- After President Zelensky “delivered an impassioned plea” to the US Congress calling on American lawmakers to “do more” on March 16, 2022, President Biden responded by pledging an additional $800 million to Ukraine to the already $200 million in military aid and $13.6 billion in emergency aid.
- On March 8, 2022, Biden placed a ban on Russian oil and energy imports with Britain issuing a phase-out ban by the end of 2022. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, oil prices have risen over 30%.
- The United States, EU, and UK governments imposed sanctions on Russia limiting the ability to access $630 billion in international reserves, dual-use goods (chemicals and lasers), the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, and travel across countries.
- In an emergency United Nations General Assembly, 141 countries passed a nonbinding resolution on March 2, 2022, condemning Russia for invading Ukraine with only five countries in opposition: Russia, Belarus, Syria, North Korea, and Eritrea.
- Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was initiated on February 24, 2022, with “unleashing airstrikes on cities and military bases and sending in troops and tanks” with condemnation coming from the US, Europe, South Korea, Australia, and other countries.
Economic sanctions are causing real pain in Russia, but there is still more the United States can do to make full use of its economic levers to end Russian aggression in Ukraine. As President Zelensky suggested, the United States can and should sanction all Russian politicians. These individuals benefit from their positions in the government of a nation currently creating unbelievable suffering for its neighbor and should be punished accordingly. While skeptics may say this would be ineffective, pressuring all Russian government employees to leave their posts could be tremendously effective. Without bureaucrats and day-to-day staff, the Russian administration would grind to a halt causing real problems for the Russian state.
In addition to sanctioning individuals, the United States should pressure all companies with a United States presence to completely exit the Russian state. While many companies have done the right thing voluntarily and ceased operations in Russia, some have simply scaled back or even outright opposed leaving to help everyday Ukrainians. Perhaps not surprisingly, some of the usual corporate bad actors, such as Haliburton and Koch Industries, have dug in in regards to their operations in Russia. These companies could certainly be pressured through tax policy and or other sanctions to pull their investments from Russia. Other large businesses such as International Paper, LG Electronics, and Subway Restaurants have defied calls to cease Russian operations, and pressuring them to leave could put more pressure on the lives of ordinary Russians.
Finally, while NATO allies must move smartly to avoid direct confrontation with Russia, ensuring that all available weaponry, armor, and humanitarian supplies are available and quickly shipped should be a top priority to aid the Ukrainian resistance.
Zelensky has asked the US Congress to assist his country with more help, including military assistance, closing the airspace over Ukraine, and more financial aid. But the US has already done more favors for Ukraine than many other nations. Zelensky is only thinking about the future of Ukraine, but the US has to consider the global effects of this war on many other European nations. Many believe that Putin is not rational and very unpredictable, and anything the US will attempt militarily may provoke a bigger war that may spill into other neighboring countries. The US has also undertaken many financial and economic sanctions against Russia, continuing talks with the nation to reach a ceasefire. What Zelensky does not seem to understand is that the war has gone on for three weeks with no end in sight, and rather than worsen the situation by creating more tension with the Russians, it is time to call for a peaceful settlement. Zelensky has repeatedly refused to discuss peace talks with the Russians; he is hell-bent on prolonged war and wants all other nations to get involved at their peril. The best thing Biden can do now is to provide humanitarian aid to the three million refugees, update the Ukraine defense and security system so that it can counter the threat from Russian aircraft but refrain from sending American military personnel. The time now is for a diplomatic resolution to this ugly war without any more loss of life. Sending US military personnel and equipment is simply delaying the inevitable; while at the same time leading to more death and destruction.