After months of cautious, measured steps failed to convince Russia to abandon its ambitions to invade Ukraine, the US and its European allies abandoned prudence in favor of a more merciless approach.
Putin in the Spotlight
Over the week, Washington and its allies outlined a slew of steps — ranging from additional arms exports to anti-corruption penalties to the closure of the European Union’s airspace to Russian planes — that will undoubtedly hurt Moscow’s economy as it tries to dominate Ukraine militarily.
Not only did previously hesitant countries, such as Germany, take the lead on some fronts, after seeing photos of a Russian attack on the Ukrainian city, but some of the sanctions are explicitly directed at Russian President Vladimir Putin.
It was at times difficult to keep up with all the latest anti-Kremlin declarations, the aggregate of which was perhaps unprecedented in scale and scope.
Russia has been sanctioned by a number of commercial enterprises, as well as international sporting organizations. Meanwhile, countries that are friendly or neutral to Moscow have mostly remained silent or offered to assist in mediating a resolution to Putin’s current attack on Ukraine.
Putin’s indications that he would be willing to go nuclear elicited no immediate acquiescence from his critics.
— 🇺🇦 Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) February 28, 2022
The Russian economy was hit hard right away, with the ruble, the nation’s currency, collapsing as Russians scrambled for cash and the equity markets shut down.
Meanwhile, US officials detailed fresh sanctions against Russia’s banking firms, including the banking system, ministry of finance, National Wealth Fund, and Direct Investment Group, on Monday.
Many of the Russian government’s assets will be far more difficult to access and transfer around, as a result of the restrictions.
In a weekend briefing, a senior Biden White House official said, “Russia has become a worldwide, economic, and financial outcast.”
“We didn’t want to be here, but this is Putin’s war of aggression, and only he can determine how much more he’s ready to pay.”
Russia Might Not Win This
No one believes triumph is on the horizon. Putin is obstinate, and his authority in Russia is largely unchecked.
His forces have been ordered to conquer Kyiv and depose Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s administration.
Despite years of support and funding from Washington, Russian forces still have the advantage over Ukraine’s army; neither the US nor its NATO allies are ready to send troops to confront Russia directly.
However, Ukraine’s leadership is pleading for additional foreign assistance.
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) February 28, 2022
Nonetheless, Russia and sanctions hawks greeted the rising anti-Putin international bloc’s determination to escalate — and escalate substantially — over the weekend with applause and sighs of relief.
Many long argued the US and Europe should take the gathering momentum over the week.
The weekend maneuvers, according to current and former US officials, were made for a variety of reasons.
The events on the battlefield were the most important of these: skeptics, particularly in Europe, can no longer deny or discount Putin’s goals when Russian troops, tanks, as well as missiles attack key Ukrainian cities, notably Kyiv.