Said Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, a few days ago.
He is right.
The West has announced sanctions on two major Russian banks and on Russian debt after Putin’s troops entered the Donetsk and Lugansk ‘new’ republics in the Donbas region of Eastern Ukraine.
But the EU–US alliance is choosing to not announce what is to follow until the invader takes the next step.
To Putin, that smells of the West not being truly convinced of his intentions to take over the entire Ukraine.
The only firm deterrent to him would have been NATO’s troops on the ground, but since Ukraine is not a NATO member, that was never going to happen.
There is a clear difference in the motivations of the contending parties.
Putin has made up his mind to annex Ukraine.
The West, though committed to placing sanctions on him, is not quite clear on which ones to choose.
So Putin, who’s willing to dare and push his way through the entire country, East to West, North to South, is not deterred by them.
Regardless of Mr Biden’s firm efforts in addressing the crisis, Putin is calculating that the West’s lack of strong conviction owes to their needing to check with lots of nations to make sure no one member of the alliance is disproportionately burdened by any one sanction.
Putin, on the other hand, does not have to weigh any such considerations. He alone speaks for Russia, and therein lies his advantage.
It was a confidence booster for the West to hear that, upon starting the invasion, Germany had stepped up and stopped the certification of Nord Stream 2, the gas pipeline from Russia to their northern shore. But as Putin’s troops run over Ukraine, what else will they agree on?
Putin seems to have no interest in diplomacy.
‘What use will the sanctions be after they bomb us?’
Zelensky sees, quite clearly, that Ukraine matters more to Putin than to the West.
Placing sanctions on Russia will also have an economic cost to the West but it is Ukraine that will pay dearly once they end up a vassal state.
Ukrainians know this is their fight. They know it will be Ukrainian blood that will be spilled.
Western principles will be invoked and sanctions placed on Russia to support such principles, but in the end the great fight will be fought by Ukrainians. It will be their parents and children and brothers and sisters who will die in defense of their land, paying with their flesh and blood the price to have a destiny of their own.
Putin is no grand strategist but a clever and vicious thug. He can spot weakness in an adversary and do what he needs to suit his needs.
Today, he is bent on grabbing a nation, capturing a people, subjecting it to his will.
We don’t know what he will want tomorrow.
Letting him know in advance what the sanctions are may be more effective than announcing them after his assaults. And though sanctions alone, however severe, will not deter him, they will inflict harm, which combined with Ukrainians’ courage to fight may prove decisive.
Ukrainians know it us up to them to bear the greater cost of the struggle.
And that surrender is not an option.
Oscar Valdes. Oscarvaldes.net anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts