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The west should not bend on Russian sanctions
By Rachel Alexander
When Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to invade Ukraine this year, he certainly didn’t expect the Ukrainians to fight back as forcefully as they have. Despite massive bombing campaigns and the use of Russian heavy artillery, the Ukrainians are standing strong and even pushing back.
Russia has waged a brutal war resulting in massive casualties. Ukrainian officials have recovered the bodies of many citizens with their hands tied behind their backs, and “the gruesome work of digging up the remains coincided with the Ukrainian police chief’s report that authorities have opened criminal investigations into the killings of more than 12,000 people during Russia’s war.” In the face of these severe tactics, the people of Ukraine have fought bravely to protect their homes and nation.
The Russians also couldn’t have expected that the West would remain as united as it has. As soon as the invasion was underway, Western governments imposed harsh economic sanctions aimed at bringing Russia to its knees. Even though those sanctions are being felt in the U. S. and in Europe, so far people have proven willing to pay more for raw materials and other goods in order to keep the pressure on Moscow.
The goal of sanctions is to get Russia to the negotiating table to end the war. The Guardian reported on June 11, 2022 that “the decision by western allies to sever financial and trade ties with Russia has plunged the country’s economy into a deep recession, with the OECD forecasting a 10% contraction this year and a fall of more than 4% in 2023.” The sanctions are working, yet there are still a few holdouts.
Going forward, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wants the sanctions tightened, not eased. “This is what sanctions should be: They should be maximum, so that Russia and every other potential aggressor that wants to wage a brutal war against its neighbor would clearly know the immediate consequences of their actions,” Zelenskyy told the economic Davos Forum last month.
That is the right approach, because sanctions are working.
The White House predicts that continued pressure will extend the contraction of the Russian economy and its soaring inflation. “The Russian economy is staggering under the weight of financial and trade sanctions, export controls, and the exodus of approximately 1,000 U.S. and multinational businesses. Analysts are projecting a double-digit decline in Russian GDP in 2022, soaring inflation estimated near 20% in 2022, and Putin’s war is projected to wipe out the last 15 years of economic gains in Russia,” a White House fact sheet says. “The United States and our allies and partners are committed to supporting Ukraine and ensuring the Russian government feels the compounding effects of our economic actions.”
Unfortunately not everyone agrees.
“We don’t think sanctions on imports will be appropriate,” Airbus Chief Executive Officer Guillaume Faury told investors. Airbus, a major European company that makes aerospace products, wants to maintain its supply of the metal titanium, which Russia has plenty of. So far, Airbus has succeeded in its lobbying efforts. Even though the EU is imposing sanctions on most Russian exports, Airbus has still been allowed to import titanium.
Titanium is as strong as steel, and mixes well with other substances. That makes it ideal for building airplanes, where weight is a crucial factor, but strength matters as well.
Airbus gets at least half of its titanium from Russia, and it has been stockpiling the metal for years. Even after Russia upset the rest of the world by invading Crimea in 2014, Airbus kept buying Russian titanium — in fact, it stepped up its orders. That is, essentially, blood metal. Other plane makers have found other sources of titanium, and they are complying with the boycott on Russia. Sadly,it is clear that Airbus is willing to work with dictators to get the raw materials it needs.
This matters, because Airbus is a major international defense contractor. It is often in the running for military contracts that are worth hundreds of millions and even billions of dollars. Airbus is in a sense turning Russian titanium into gold by selling its planes for a huge profit.
Sanctions usually break down because the countries or companies imposing them don’t stand firm. If the EU and the U.S. allow one major company to break the embargo on Russia materials, other companies will do so as well. Russia would be able to make money even as it presses its illegal invasion of Ukraine.
The U.S. government cannot afford to allow that to happen. It needs to cut off Airbus, at least until Airbus is willing to get with the program and cut off its reliance on Russian raw materials.
Rachel Alexander and her brother Andrew are co-Editors of Intellectual Conservative . She has been published in the American Spectator, Townhall.com, Fox News, NewsMax, Accuracy in Media, The Americano, ParcBench, Enter Stage Right and other publications.