By Paul Goble
One of the great tragedies of our time is the increasingly short-time horizons people and governments have about what they do and what is happening. If a policy doesn’t achieve its goals quickly and preferably immediately, then ever more people and officials are prepared to declare it a failure and demand that it be changed.
That approach contrasts sharply when governments and individuals took a longer view and pursued policies few thought could ever be effective – until after many years they proved to be — policies like American non-recognition of the Soviet annexation of the Baltic countries or containment of communism more generally.
Today, the short-term perspective is leading some in the West to question support for Ukraine – after all, they say, the promised Ukrainian offensive last summer didn’t succeed – and to cast doubt on the value of Western sanctions – given that they have not yet prompted Vladimir Putin to end his aggressive war.
In both cases, such short-term thinking is dangerous and plays into Putin’s hands. It convinces him that no matter what he does, the West will eventually decide that any attempt to stop him should be scrapped and a return to “business as usual” pursued. If the Kremlin leader is given reasons to believe that, he will have no reason to stop with Ukraine.
Such dangers make articles like that of Russian analyst Ivan Zolotov in Novyye izvestiya especially important not only for Russian politicians but perhaps also and even more for Western governments and publics (newizv.ru/news/2024-01-24/otlozhennyy-effekt-rossiya-tolko-nachinaet-oschuschat-vsyu-tyazhest-sanktsiy-426490).
Zolotov argues that “Russia is only now beginning to feel the full weight of sanctions.” Earlier it was protected by high oil prices but those have fallen and by reserve funds that are rapidly being eaten up. Moreover, Moscow officials acknowledge it has turned out that the Russian economy is far more dependent on imports than many had thought.
He provides compelling evidence for each of these changes in order to argue that “now, the effect of sanctions is becoming ever stronger.” Consequently, it is no time to think about lifting sanctions or reducing support for Ukraine. Instead, sanctions now proving their effectiveness should be increased and support for Ukraine and its defenders boosted.