While we all hoped this would not happen, Russia has chosen to invade Ukraine. I am not totally surprised as I think too many refused to take Putin’s claim the worst catastrophe in the 20th century was dissolution of USSR at face value. Putin clearly wants to rebuild the old USSR and he cannot stand idea of a Western oriented democracy on his border. I believe we need to hit Russia hard over this. No one wants war and since Ukraine is not a NATO member, we are not obliged to go. But we need to use all tools available to make Russia suffer for this and they should know sanctions will not be lifted until they completely withdraw from Ukraine including Crimea. Some say West at fault for expanding NATO, but that is just a Kremlin excuse. Fact is most former Eastern bloc countries know Russia well and had good reason to be fearful and those that joined probably thankful they did and many in Ukraine wishing we let them in.
Below are a list of some things I believe must be done.
- Close our air space to all Russian flights. If they retaliate so be it. I plan to travel to Asia next year and if it means a longer flight or a day longer in transit, I can accept that.
- Kick Russia out of SWIFT immediately
- A complete ban on all Russian imports and exports. The rules should be as strict as US embargo on Cuba. Only humanitarian supplies and medicines would be exempt from export ban as well as family remittances for Russians abroad with family there (this would exclude oligarchs, but regular Russian immigrants)
- Revoke broadcasting licences for Russia Today and all other Kremlin propaganda outlets. Also pressure social media to take these down, which most have.
- Sanction Putin, every single member of government, and all oligarchs not just some.
- Any Russian oligarchs in West should have bank accounts seized, their yachts, properties, fancy cars, private jets and all other assets in West confiscated and auctioned off and proceeds then used to help Ukrainian people. Also their visas should be revoked and immediately sent back to Russia and banned from re-entering any NATO or EU country for life. Otherwise impoverish those who have gotten wealthy off Putin
- Immediately approve Energy East and start building pipelines. Also pressure Biden to reverse Keystone Pipeline cancellation. Reason Russia thought they could get away with this is many countries particularly Germany dependent on them for natural gas. Its time Canada which produces enough step up so West is less reliant on Russia. Climate change an important issue, but national security more urgent and building pipelines isn’t just about economic growth, its also key to national security.
- Supply Ukraine with weapons so they can fight and also send planes to declare a no fly zone over country. Request this in UN Security council which Russia will veto and then take to UN General assembly after which hopefully passes.
- Make clear to Belarus that all sanctions applied to Russia will apply to them until they quit offering support to Russia and that any other country that provides logistical support to the invasion will face same sanctions.
- Canada has a large Ukrainian community so lets like we did in 1956 with Hungarians, with Vietnamese boat people in 1979 open Canada’s doors to Ukrainian refugees. Also we should allow those who don’t wish to permanently immigrate here but simply stay until conflict is over such option. Drop visas on Ukrainians until war ends and likewise the 6 month rule will be waived until the war ends. Those coming from Ukraine only have to apply and go through proper immigration restrictions if they wish to stay beyond the war, not for duration.
- If Finland and Sweden wish to join NATO, offer immediate membership. Finland in particular has good reason to be afraid of Russia and feel its neutrality policy is not working.
- Likewise offer immediate membership to Moldova and Georgia as both are not NATO members but could be next of targets by Russia. Russia has already attacked Georgia while Moldova in Transnistria region has large Russian speaking population which undoubtedly Putin will use as a lie to attack them next.
- Fast Track EU membership for Ukraine and Moldova. Yes I get after Brexit some worried about free mobility, but I think current issue a greater overarching threat. In addition if Moldova wishes to join Romania that is another possibility but should be up to those two countries, but would result in instant EU and NATO membership if they did rejoin. Historically they were one country and both Romanian speaking. But at same time its up to those two countries to decide
- Expel Russian ambassador from Ottawa and likewise all other allies should do same. Also we need to recall our ambassador from Moscow.
These are just some of the things we need to do, but I believe we need to go as hard as possible. Putin only understands one thing, which is strength. When Russian economy tanks and they become an international pariah, that will hurt. More than anything, any type of negotiation like not expanding NATO is over. We could have maybe made such promises prior to invasion, but not anymore. Putin has shown he cannot be trusted. This will cause some minor inconvenience in West, particularly higher gas prices, but this can be alleviated by suspending or reducing carbon tax until things settle down. More importantly, many Russian people will suffer. This is unfortunate as its Putin and his cronies not fault of Russian people, many who are protesting this immoral and unjust war, but I just don’t see any alternative. In addition, more Russian people suffer, more likely they are to rise up against Putin so this may just be beginning of the end of Putin regime. If Putin is deposed over this, Canada and its allies should be there to help Russia rebuild economically. Likewise just as we will accept Ukrainian refugees, I support us also accepting Russian ones who are trying to escape Putin’s totalitarian regime. In particular, any soldier who defects or anti war protesters arrested I think are worth accepting. The main target here is Putin, his government, and the wealthy oligarchs who enable him. Finally, I believe hitting Russia hard hopefully will serve as a warning to China that they try this with Taiwan, they will face similar sanctions. China is probably watching closely and if this succeeds, they will go after Taiwan, but if fails they might think twice. In closing we have witnessed Ukrainian people show a lot of resilience and I think this is not going to be as easy as Putin thought. Ukrainians know their history and do not wish to be controlled by Russia, so quite proud of them fighting back.