Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 30.01.2018
Russia invaded Ukraine on 20 February 2014. Timid sanctions by the US and other countries have had no effect, and Putin’s War has expanded into a global war in the almost four years since the Spetsnaz attacked Crimea. Russia falsified the 2016 US election to make vote loser and compromised Russian intelligence services asset Donald Trump the president. The US Congress passed a Russia sanctions bill, with overwhelming support, on 27 July 2017. With a whining caveat, Trump signed it on 2 August 2017. Delaying until the last possible moment, Trump announced on 29 January 2018 that he would not enforce the law and would not sanction Russian individuals and entities for what they did interfering with, manipulating, and falsifying the US election of 2016.
The Trump State Department uses very strange language to justify its law-breaking: “Given the long timeframes generally associated with major defense deals, the results of this effort are only beginning to become apparent. From that perspective, if the law is working, sanctions on specific entities or individuals will not need to be imposed because the legislation is, in fact, serving as a deterrent.” Amazingly, Trump is claiming that not enforcing the law makes it effective. His officials make a false claim that Russian aggression is being deterred. The US State Department has no evidence Putin is being deterred.
Since the original round of sanctions in 2014, Russia expanded its invasion of Ukraine. Russia shot down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 on 17 July 2014 and killed 298 people. Russia took even more Ukrainian territory after the Battle of Donetsk Airport in January 2015 and after the Battle of Debaltseve in February 2015. Russia has not adhered to a single provision of the Minsk Agreements, and has broken every ceasefire for three years. Russia bombards Ukrainian defenders and civilians across its invasion of Europe battlefront in Donbas every day and night. Russia commits gross abuses of human rights against Crimean Tatars in Russia-occupied Crimea and against Ukrainian patriots in Russia-occupied Donbas.
Also since the original round of sanctions in 2014, Russia began its campaign of bombing Syrian civilians in September 2015. Russia has waged expanded information warfare, engaging especially in Internet attacks. Russia has interfered with democratic elections and falsified elections and referenda in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Moldova, and especially the United States.
The United States guaranteed Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances. When Russia invaded Ukraine and broke the Budapest Memorandum, President Obama imposed sanctions on Russia but did not send troops or weapons to Ukraine, nor did he declare war on Russia. The sanctions were weak, piecemeal, and affected ‘nobodies’ in the Putin regime rather than powerful figures or Putin himself. The US failed to keep its promise to Ukraine.
Now, Trump is further weakening the already ineffective defence of the West against Russia. On January 28, he allowed a tanker to dock in Boston, bringing liquid natural gas from a sanctioned Russian company, Novatek; Trump failed to enforce existing sanctions. On January 29, he did not bring in sanctions on Russian defence and intelligence individuals and entities who are committing war crimes; Trump failed to enforce new sanctions.
The Trump claim that a law on paper without actual sanctions to back it up is “serving as a deterrent” to Russian aggression is a hideous lie that could have been written in the Kremlin.
Russia has not been deterred. Russia has been emboldened by every word of praise Trump has given Putin and every word of criticism he has not given. Russian aggression has expanded to the point that Putin’s war against the West is a total war and a global war. Ukraine is the most hard-hit by the complete failure of deterrence. Ukrainians have been defending against Russia’s invasion of Europe in Crimea and Donbas for 3 years, 11 months, 10 days. It was possible that increased sanctions by the United States might have reduced the Russia shells and rockets and mortars and grenades and bullets that hail down upon Ukrainian defenders and civilians. Now that Trump has broken his oath to the US Constitution and failed to execute a law of Congress, the killing and the maiming and the destruction that the barbarians from Muscovy will inflict on Ukraine, the vanguard of Western civilization, will be horrendous.