Updated: Mar 15
As the world leaders intensify their economic sanctions against Russia, the continued war in the Ukraine shows no signs of abatement. The increasing number of deaths—both combatants and innocent civilians—in the Ukraine have led to categorizations of ‘genocide’ by President Vladimir Putin. Several countries—including Greece—have given military armaments to the Ukrainians to assist them in their fight for survival. Other countries, such as the United States, have removed Russian banks from SWIFT, effectively denying them access to international markets. In the past few days, a domino effect of corporations suspending their operations in Russia has occurred. Between banks, gas companies, and even fast-food corporations, Russia is now being isolated from the West. The result of this economic withdrawal has led to the Russian ruble going into a financial free-fall that is affecting Russians of all socio-economic categories.
What must be noted is that Russia is not facing economic sanctions or other consequences by all of the major countries around the world. Between countries who have deliberated stayed out of the political fray, to countries such as New Zealand that has not suspended any of its trade or financial dealings with Russia, Putin will still have some political and economic recourse for survival.
Within Russia, rancor and dissent is now steadily increasing. Economic oligarchs are upset that their assets are being confiscated or their ability to travel abroad has been curtailed, while the average Russian citizen is finding that everyday life is becoming more difficult. Russian citizens are being spoon-fed political propaganda to generate support for the invasion. Should the Ukraine be allowed to join NATO? Should the Ukraine be allowed to have missiles on the border with Russia? Should Ukrainian schools not be allowed to teach Russian to children? These comments have only fanned the flames of hostility against the Ukrainians.
Overall, Putin is slowly being driven into a corner with few options available to him. Most troubling for the world leaders is Putin’s lack of restraint in contemplating the use of nuclear weapons to achieve his political objectives. This factor has been at the heart of concern for political leaders who are treading a fine line in supporting Zelensky, but not provoking Putin into a wider assault.
Recently, Markos Kounalakis wrote in the San Francisco Examiner that as “Putin walks through his gilded Kremlin corridors, he has become increasingly isolated and paranoid, aware that his future holds only three options: 1) power, 2) prison or 3) death."
Will the Western countries provide Putin with a way out of this war or will Kounalakis’s statement prove to be an ominous foreshadowing of the future?