Sep 29, 2015

Strong and Principled Foreign Policy: Russia

This is the third post in a series on strong a principled foreign policy. Please click here for the first and second posts.

The number of U.S. military personnel in Europe has dropped from more than 300,000 troops during the Cold War to only 60,000 today. This has left an opening to Putin in his quest for regional domination, and we’ve seen the results from Ukraine to Syria.

The President doesn’t seem to recognize the gravity of the Russian threat, and at each new turn his Administration seems blindsided by Russia’s moves. But we have to be clear-eyed about what Russia is doing and how to respond.

As Leader McCarthy said in his foreign policy address to the Hay Initiative,

“Russia’s military modernization and its reliance on hybrid warfare are a direct threat to NATO and the solidarity of our alliance, yet efforts to contain and roll back Russian aggression have failed. This Administration has seesawed from an ill-advised courtship of Putin’s Russia to scrambling to respond to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and a ground war in eastern Ukraine that continues to this day, virtually unacknowledged by the White House.”

So how can we respond to Russia’s rise? Leader McCarthy advocates a strong, multi-pronged approach using both hard and soft power.

Step one, arm Ukraine:

“It is time for America to step up, not back down, and that starts with providing Ukrainian fighting forces lethal aid…. The Obama Administration has argued that providing defense weapons will only encourage additional Russian aggression. I disagree. It is weakness that fuels Russian aggression, not western actions.”

Step two, ramp up sanctions:

“The President’s response to Putin’s aggression should not be to sit down and talk, but to consider serious sanctions that target him, the oligarchs who sustain his reign, and their cronies that help them avoid sanctions.”

Step three, use our energy to help our friends:

“We should be making it more difficult for the major Russian energy company Gazprom to do business. Gazprom is an extension of the Russian military arsenal. It fuels Putin’s belligerent ambitions to blackmail our allies…. We must use American energy to help our allies.  It defies belief that the president would allow the ban on Iranian oil exports to be lifted and also stand by as Russia blackmails an entire continent, all the while keeping in place the ban on the American export of crude oil. If Russia wants to use energy as a weapon against our friends and allies, let’s use our energy resources to set them free.”

Giving Ukraine weapons, considering sanctions against Putin himself, Russian oligarchs, and their cronies, and using our energy resources to counter Russia. These are the practical policies we can use to push back against Russian aggression and bring stability to Europe and beyond.