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Robert Reich: Is It Time To Make A Big Sacrifice For Ukraine? – OpEd

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Despite economic sanctions imposed by the United States and the West, we now learn that Russia’s cash flows soared during the first quarter because of surging energy prices for Russian oil and gas — ironically, brought on by Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Russia’s continued sales of oil and gas to the West are the single most important thing now propping up Putin’s brutal regime.  

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The Institute of International Finance projects that Russia will post a record $250 billion surplus this year based on its first-quarter sales of oil and gas, which would entirely make up for the Russian central bank reserves now frozen by Western powers through sanctions. In short, sales of oil and gas are giving Putin the money he needs to finance his savage war.

Russia’s ruble has more than fully recovered. True, imports into the country have fallen sharply, reducing the standard of living of Russians who are unable to buy foreign goods. But via lies and propaganda, Putin has rallied Russians behind him nonetheless.

It’s now clear: The only way the United States and the West can impose real pain on Putin is to stop purchasing Russian oil and gas entirely. This would be costly for us, of course. We don’t know exactly how costly but there’s no question such a move would drive world energy prices substantially higher.

Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, and writes at robertreich.substack.com. Reich served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good," which is available in bookstores now. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

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