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Editor’s Note: Hit them where it hurts

MICHAEL GEBELEIN
Managing Editor

The invasion of Ukraine worsens, and the United States does nothing.
We’ve levied a few sanctions, shared a few harsh words with Russia’s leaders, but all that amounts to little more than posturing. That’s what our foreign policy is, and has been, through at least the last four presidents — posturing. We can do better, we can still lead on the world stage, if only our leadership in the Oval Office and Congress had the fortitude to make meaningful strides toward upholding justice and freedom around the world. Lofty ideas, no doubt, but ones I believe are still attainable.
The major media outlets have called the agitators in eastern Ukraine “militants,” but soon they’ll be called what they are: Russian soldiers. Sources in several newspapers have described the soldiers as being well equipped and professional, not adjectives typically assigned to your average Eastern European, Molotov cocktail-throwing revolutionist.
We don’t need to get involved militarily in Ukraine. It’s not strategically intelligent, and it’s not worth American blood. We don’t even need to send the pro-Ukraine forces guns — yet.
But what we do need to do is cripple the bank account of every single person Vladimir Putin has ever been in the same room with. We can make them bleed rubles, and that is the quickest way to smash any imperialist ideas Russia’s leadership has about any of its former soviets. And it would be a strong message to other superpowers that have their eyes on disputed territories (I’m looking at you, China). Act up, and we’ll hit you where it hurts.
That’s not to say the US and Europe should target whole sectors of the Russian economy, either. Russian civilians, whether they’ve been whipped into a foolish nationalistic frenzy or not, are not responsible for the invasion of Ukraine. There are key players in Russia, I’m sure, that Putin works for. It is the same in almost every nation on earth — the head of state has his minders.
Those are the figures our sanctions need to target. They should be easily identifiable. We need to squeeze them so hard that they go to Putin and give him the option of either pulling his military forces out of and away from Ukraine or spending the rest of his days farming ice blocks in Siberia.
Michael Gebelein is managing editor of the Lincoln Times-News.

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