August 1, 2014 at 1:00 am


Sanctions won't stop Russia

The latest round of sanctions aimed at the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin will achieve little.

The chattering class may laud the joint actions by President Barack Obamaís administration and the European Union member countries, however, the reality of the situation demands far more than sanctions full of loopholes aimed at preserving key interests in Russia.

While on assignment in Stockholm, Sweden, over the past week, I witnessed first-hand the utter hypocrisy from the great powers of the Old World.

Too many say one thing publicly, but do something else behind the scenes.

The French are arguably the worst, as embattled French President FranÁois Hollande pledges to continue with the sale and delivery of new, state-of-the-art French warships to the Kremlin despite the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in the skies above Ukraine.

The British rightly criticized the French, although there is just one problem: The Brits are making oodles of money off Russian oligarchs who not only launder money through the global financial capital, but also own large swaths of the most desirable neighborhoods in London.

Then there is Germany, which has dominated the political class of continental Europe since the recession and the near-collapse of the eurozone caused by Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland.

Not only do the Germans get rich off the lucrative Russian oil and gas business, but former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is a top influence peddler for Putin.

One of the rare exceptions is Sweden, where the center-right government of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, through Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, has arguably been Putinís harshest critic in the West.

This is striking when one considers that Sweden, although a trusted partner of the United States most recently in Afghanistan, is not a member of NATO, as opposed to the French who, despite being an ally, are undermining the military alliance by giving Russia warships that one day could be used against a NATO member country.

The problem is Franceís economy is in shambles and Hollande thinks keeping domestic workers busy building warships with Russian blood money is better than scrapping the warships and losing the equivalent of about $1.5 billion.

The soft power exercised by European countries with vastly underfunded militaries and an Obama administration thatís only going through the motions does nothing to stop Putin.

Only old-fashioned statecraft grounded in hard power can gain Putinís respect and contain his dreams of Peter the Great and Joseph Stalin. is a columnist for
the Morning Sun of Mount Pleasant.
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