Choosing Sides: The Congress Should Freeze Aid to Countries Buying Russian Gas

Below is my column in the Hill on a proposal for legislation to address allies supporting Russia through gas contracts. Congress can constitutionally freeze aid to countries undermining sanctions by buying cut-rate gas from the Putin regime. In the meantime, India’s major gas contract pumping money into the Russian economy will not be treated by the Biden Administration as a sanctions violation. Congress can force a bright line on foreign aid that aligns with our public and moral positions on Ukraine. Under its Article I powers, Congress can condition such foreign aid and, if necessary, override a veto from President Joe Biden.

Here is the column:

As Russian forces lay waste to Ukraine in an unprovoked war, U.S. senators acted this week to “send an unmistakable message that the U.S. Senate stands with Ukraine, stands against Putin.” The message was a resolution supporting an investigation into war crimes in the conflict.

In reality, there are legal barriers to holding Russia’s Vladimir Putin responsible for war crimes, even though the evidence of such crimes mounts by the day. The fact is, international economics rather than international law is more likely to force an end to Putin’s regime. Yet that effort is being undermined by our own allies, who continue to give billions in life support to Putin’s otherwise comatose economy. (In fairness to countries like Germany, the Biden administration also initially resisted severing Russian gas, even though America buys a far lower percentage of its energy from Russia.)

Unfortunately, Congress is spending time on dubious “economic” measures that are politically popular but likely legally ineffectual. Take the bill “Yachts for Ukraine,” which combines a brilliantly sound-bited title with a universal revulsion for yacht-owning oligarchs. In reality, it is far easier to seize a yacht than to keep it; most of these oligarchs are likely to recover their yachts, and might even successfully sue the United States for damages and costs.

What sustains Putin is oil, not oligarchs. Yet, from the outset, President Biden emphasized that “The goal was to maximize impact on Putin and Russia and minimize the harm on us and our allies and friends around the world.”

Well, it is time to choose. You cannot “stand with Ukraine” while funding Russia.

Some countries are openly opportunistic. Russia on the ropes means gas on the cheap. When Russia unleashed hell on Ukraine, the first in line in Moscow was Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who openly sought “a major gas pipeline deal.” India was not far behind in inking a deal for cut-rate Russian gas.

The Biden administration warned China that it would take action should Beijing help Russia evade Western sanctions, but it has struggled to avoid criticizing India, even when India abstained from the vote by 141 nations in the United Nations to denounce Russia for its invasion.

A State Department cable recently warned diplomats that India and the United Arab Emirates were “in Russia’s camp” regarding Ukraine. (When the cable was leaked, it was promptly recalled by the Biden administration.)

India has entirely decoupled its diplomacy from morality — and from the teachings of Gandhi, who once warned that “Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as it is to cooperate with the good.”

In response, Congress should draw a clear line for both the Biden administration and our allies.

We have an inherently conflicted foreign policy: First, we ask U.S. citizens to bear the costs of cutting off Russian aid and of sending billions to Ukraine to fight Russia, and then we send billions to foreign countries that are giving money to Russia through gas deals. It is like draining a pool on one end while pumping the water back in at the other end.

The solution? Congress should pass a law that freezes foreign aid to countries purchasing Russian energy products in circumvention of sanctions. That money could then be redirected to Ukraine or returned to U.S. taxpayers in the form of gas-price relief.

In 2019, U.S. foreign assistance totaled an estimated $48.18 billion, or 1 percent of the federal budget authority. The objectives of foreign aid have been reduced to five basic categories: “Peace and Security, Investing in People, Governing Justly and Democratically, Economic Growth, and Humanitarian Assistance.” Helping Russia to evade sanctions is antithetical to all five of these goals, as well as U.S. interests and foreign policy.

In 2019, Congress opposed an effort by the Trump administration to freeze foreign aid. Congress itself, however, can condition these funds. It is entirely reasonable to condition aid on the respect of U.S. sanctions on Russia. Indeed, every aid dollar given to Pakistan, India or other countries effectively allows those countries to spend another dollar in subsidizing Russia.

In the recent U.N. vote, the world stood largely united against Russia’s invasion. Only five nations voted against the measure, including the United Arab Emirates. Thirty-five countries could not muster the moral courage to even condemn the invasion, including India, Pakistan, South Africa and other major U.S. aid recipients. The list included 16 African nations.

The inclusion of South Africa was particularly striking, since many countries and companies supported the Sullivan Principles and the boycotting of South Africa under apartheid. It is a country reborn in the cause of freedom from tyranny. Nelson Mandela famously declared that “to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” It is now criticizing the West for its actions on Ukraine while refusing to condemn Russia.

Congress cannot legislate morality in its own citizens, let alone those of other countries. It can, however, use our foreign aid to hold the line against tyranny. It is not possible “to maximize impact on Putin and Russia and minimize the harm on us and our allies and friends around the world.” We have to choose a side, as do our allies. They can choose petrol over principles if they wish — but they should do so without the aid of American taxpayers.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanTurley.

152 thoughts on “Choosing Sides: The Congress Should Freeze Aid to Countries Buying Russian Gas”

  1. Dealing with India is simple….don’t. Deal with Pakistan.

    In FDR we. had a President that understood what was important when it involved War and Peace.

    The Western Nations should provide Ukraine everything they need to destroy the Russian Invaders….and render them combat in-effective.

    For you Lefties that means destroy them, their equipment, their desire to engage in combat.

    Putin must read the handwriting on the wall….his Invasion forces are doomed….and him as well.

    No more half measures out of the Biden Administration…..either it steps up to the plate or we start thinking about some changes in the way our own country is being run.

    We are seeing how true the saying is…..”You never get attacked for being too strong!”.

    Biden proves that in his half assed approach to sanctions and providing Arms to Ukraine.

    Every C-17 leaving Poland should be filled with Refugees.

    Not one Russian or Illegal Alien should be allowed across the Southern Border while there are Ukrainians needing temporary homes…..what say we grant them a pathway to Citizenship!

  2. I read that right? 1% of the federal budget goes to these ankle biters? Collectively? So if they decide to bite Russia’s ankles, that will win the war?

    If this was a war on mailmen, I would expect less junk mail (a good outcome), but Russia would still be bombing Ukraine.

    In any event, I don’t have a problem with this, in spite of the fact–or maybe because of the fact–it will prove pointless.

  3. Students of history can trace Russia’s concerns with its borders and invasions by its neighbors dating back to the country’s beginnings.
    Kids who get indoctrinated in Russian schools learn this national ‘concern’ from a very early age.
    Putin was once a kid in a Russian school, getting indoctrinated to think and feel that way about Mother Russia. And he took it in fully and completely, becoming KGB Colonel, and eventually, the Vladimir Putin we are now witnessing, the wanna-be Czar of Mother Russia.

    How does one negotiate with this national leader?

    Unfortunately, no one in the current Administration knows how, least of all Joseph Robinette Biden, who in the words of Robert Gates ‘has been wrong on nearly every foreign policy decision’ since he entered politics in the 1970’s.

  4. Europe will shift largely sustainable and renewable within 20 years. The U.S. will continue to be amazingly regressive on the topic as one party is completely owned by the fossil fuel lobby while bits of the other party is also.

    Consider Ukraine as the graphic novel of this conundrum in addition to being a humanitarian disaster.


    1. Europe will shift largely sustainable and renewable within 20 years.

      Prove it
      It is a very simple arithmetic problem
      How many of joules are produced by fossil fuels?
      Identify how many windmills, dams, solar panels, etc will it take to fill that number.

      (or are we finally going to quit lying and admit we need nuclear power.)

      (are going to count the mining and refining of rare earth minerals against ‘renewable’ total)

      1. Since I’m banned here unless using devices where I type with my thumbs I won’t rob you of the few minutes of research it would take to bring you into his century. But here’s the basics of what you need to know…there is infinitely more energy that can just be collected and distributed than there is energy that has to generated then collected and distributed.

        Have fun!!


      2. “(are going to count the mining and refining of rare earth minerals against ‘renewable’ total)”

        That’s a good point. And now that you mention it, an obvious contradiction.

        The Greens tout “renewable” energy (whatever the hell that means). Yet their chosen technologies rely on numerous “nonrenewable” resources, e.g., cobalt.

    2. The Hermans are considering starting their nuke power plants back up after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
      The Germans are going back to nuclear power after Russia’s invasion.

    3. Germany -largest economy in Europe-shifted to green energy-now relying upon Russia to heat their homes and fuel their cars. It failed. I doubt they get any followers.

  5. Agreed Turley.

    Then again It’s also awfully hard to stand with Ukraine while actively working, and having worked in, the Murdoch/trump/Russian disinformation channel…, so there’s that as well.

    Eb represent

    1. Eb,

      I agree with Turley as well, but he will not be invited on Fox to present his opinion. Unless his views are useful to Fox’s narratives, he is sidelined. Turley will voice his views hoping to establish his bona fides, but he will never maintain his credibility as long as he remains silent about Fox’s anti-anti-Putin narratives.

      1. Not holding Turley in high regard these days, Jeff. Sleep with dogs, you get fleas.


  6. “In 2019, U.S. foreign assistance totaled an estimated $48.18 billion . . .”

    Stop *all* foreign assistance, now. American taxpayers should not be compelled to pay welfare to foreign countries.

    1. Every American taxpayer supports some of the things the government does with its funds and not others, but the things in each category vary with the person. You object to all foreign assistance. I do not. I’ll pay your share of foreign assistance, and you can pay my share of something I object to.

      1. “I’ll pay your share . . .”

        Better yet, just stop *compelling* people to pay for things. Stop treating one person’s efforts, work, income as a means to another person’s ends. Stop treating individuals as farm animals, to be fattened up for the slaughter.

  7. We all know both Ukraine and Russia have the biden clan by the short hairs plus all that diversion available away from his catastrophic mess of an administration. Of course sleepy joe (more soecifically his handlers) want to keep our eyes elsewhere. Ukraine was one of those disasters that the dems use so well with only a slight cost of human treasure to show for it. They are sure joe will come out of this a hero.

    1. Perfect diversion-Ukraine-from failed administration. Covid-now Ukraine.What’s after Ukraine-there will be another crisis-usually manmade.

  8. Launching the invasion of Ukraine was a violation of the UN Charter. The ICJ ordered Russia to stop the invasion. In prosecuting the invasion the Russian government and military violate on a daily basis the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) and International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Of course, Putin could care less, but he is still a war criminal.

    I agree with Professor Turley that cutting off foreign aid to countries that fail to economically isolate Russia. However, both the House and Senate are primarily interested in virtue signaling. Far to many are advocating positions on Ukraine that would make the US a co-belligerent, for example the establishment of a no-fly zone. Would Biden sign that legislation?

    The wild card in this conflict is the PRC. Will the CCP authorize military aid, i.e. equipment, to support the Russians? Since Russia is the aggressor providing equipment may make it a co-belligerent. How does the US and the West respond and what should the response be if the Chinese government engages in sanctions busting?

    In geopolitics a moral stance means little or nothing and international relations makes for strange bedfellows. India is a key partner in our Indo-Pacific strategy which is aimed at countering the PRC.

    The UAE is a strategic partner in the Middle East. Since the Houthi rebels (armed by Iran) started launching missiles at the UAE we have increased our military cooperation. The Biden Administration’s domestic energy policies have resulted in increased reliance on oil from our partners in the ME while at the same time increasing our displeasure with their governments.

    Professor, there is more to this than just Ukraine and having legislation on the books. The simple solution would seem to be delaying foreign aid and freezing the delivery of arms and other military training and purchases.

  9. California, New Mexico & Texas will become the territory of Mexico

  10. Countries never have friends, only interests and they may change from day to day. Morality and nations, sadly is, at this point in history, only a passing dream. If you had an energy independence in the US, it definitely gives you more options in events such as this. And it has nothing to do with morality.
    As far as Pakistan is concerned it is basically a lost cause. India has been a long term client of Russian armaments and only recently has started to be weaned from that and moved more towards the US and much of that was steady work from the last administration and some before it.. I don’t think that Ukraine is a reason to drive India away. They have great potential as an Ally. China is an enemy and we need to realize that and wean all of our economy from it and continue to be wary about any dealings with them.
    Brazil is closer and adroit policy could yet get them back in closer with us but we have generations or poor and heavy handed foreign policy with central and South America and that weighs heavily on what we do.
    The previous administration made tremendous progress with the middle eastern Arab states in forging ties and a coherent policy against Iran and better ties with Israel. The present administration has nearly sundered that with it’s desire to appease and then work with Iran. The present administration has no morals about working with Iran but then castigates Saudi Arabia for immoral acts. Much of the present administrations problems are of it’s own making or because of a previous poor policy decisions predating Trump.
    Europe may be waking to the risks of dealing and sleeping with a poisonous snake. If we had energy independence we could cut Russia off from them but we have to untie our hands and some peoples ideas of “morality” in a variety of areas gets in the way.
    If you start preaching morality to a nation state, you will offend them, their ears will close and eventually they will move away from you in order to get rid of the noise.
    Also preaching morality is extremely difficult even in you are totally pure. I’m sorry but i don’t know of any totally moral nation states.

    1. So True. Survival and to survive well brings satisfaction to human beings. Safety, shelter, comfort and peace of mind-away from war-fosters the strength of people of this earth.

  11. JT notes: “We have an inherently conflicted foreign policy“, when France’s Macron takes the lead on Ukrainian negotiations I’d say we’re conflicted, big time.

    I would add we have a conflicted domestic policy as well, energy, inflation, a non border, free speech, MSM propaganda, parents are domestic terrorist, censorship, crime and punishment, it goes on and on. You know things important to working Americans and their families.

    1. I so agree-from the French Revolution of 1799 and its horrors to humans- to France’s horrors today under Macron leadership in today’s world-we are all in trouble.

  12. I think you are missing a wider view. Would India rather have a pipeline of Russian oil or a pipeline of US Dollars that can be “frozen”, like the Russian central bank, at the whim of a President? Any punitive action will only drive India closer to Russia.

    1. Don’t forget Indian really wants our EMALS magnetic launch system. Could be quite a carrot to dangle in front of them.

  13. This is a moral, not an economic or strategic argument. The problems with such a strategy are multiple, starting with the EU’s dependence on Russian oil and gas. Its parliament recently vowed to wean itself off both within a year or so. Not tomorrow. The EU ran a 69 billion euro ($79 billion) deficit with Russia last year and cannot replace the gas and oil it receives from Russia quickly. Gas and oil, of course, are not only used for heating homes; they are used for commercial buildings, transport, and industrial processes.
    There is also the problem that if the US persists, it could end up bankrupt because once the dollar is no longer the ‘world’ currency, then we can no longer run massive deficits, and the ones we have will come due, and we will not be able to pay up. So the dollar would lose its value, like the rouble, and the US would lose its ability to borrow.
    Then there is Russia, which has been seeking autarky since the West began imposing sanctions, so its imports from the EU have fallen from 204 billion euros in 2012 to 95 billion in 2020. Russia now has its own banking and credit card systems, and it has inked deals for its raw materials with China and other countries. The goal, clearly, is to do without the US and the EU, if necessary. The question is whether the EU can do without Russia. Not having a Big Mac might traumatize some, but not getting platinum can crimp the supply chain for smart phones, and the International Space Station cannot stay aloft without Russia, who has also supplied NASA with rocket engines and the EU with coal, iron and steel, copper, aluminum, silver and other metals, fertilizer, grain, and precious stones.
    Then there is BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa), whose members have already set up alternatives to SWIFT and the World Bank, trade among themselves with arrangements similar to the ‘clearings’ of the 1930s, and view the “West” as inimicable to their cultures and political systems, so they have been trying, with modest success thus far, to wean themselves away from the West. Lavrov’s recent interview should be taken seriously; nobody wants to hang out with somebody who insists that he always gets his own way, and is a hypocrite to boot (think 1962, Granada, Libya, and our ‘endless wars’). The members of BRICS view the US an NATO as hostile to their values, which we in the West do tend to judge and to discount.
    Moral arguments are fine within a homogeneous culture, but cultures have different values and territorial disputes are not amenable to conflict resolution, so moral arguments are not usually routes to the resolution of diplomatic and strategic quandries, which is where we find ourselves, nor can we blame Putin and Russia for this mess, although it is comforting to do so. We need to look in a mirror, beginning with Fukuyama’s silly ‘end of history’ and NATO’s exclusion of Russia from membership and its subsequent efforts to expand right up to Russia’s doorstep. Would we have approved Mexico or Canada or Venezuela joining the Warsaw Pact? If not, why should we find it strange that the Russians view Ukraine joining NATO as an existential threat?
    You do not have to approve Russia’s reaction to Ukraine’s request in December to join NATO, but a bit of distinterested, hard-headed analysis is what is required to avoid WW3, not clarion calls to action based on a view of the world that is morally binary. In other words, if a hypersonic missile from the Black Sea can hit Lviv (Lvov) in a matter of minutes, how long would one launched from Lviv take to reach Moscow?

    1. No. First, Ukraine was not going to join NATO, second, even if it did, that would not be justification for Russia to destroy Ukraine and murder its citizens. Ukraine did nothing to provoke this.

      1. Sammy, you miss the point. Russia viewed Ukraine’s integration into NATO as a serious threat in the long term and said so explicitly time and time again over many years. It was US and NATO policy to facilitate Ukraine’s joining NATO, and in the meantime to create “interoperability”. This is expressly stated in the US/Ukraine charter signed on November 10, which Robert Service recently characterised as the “last straw” for Russia. While you may not view this as a “provocation”, the US knew Russia saw it this way and was planning to invade but did nothing to prevent that, either through an effective deterrent or through a negotiated settlement.

        And so Russia invaded. They violated international norms in doing so, but they did it, and China supports them. Ukraine is in the process of being reduced to rubble and its citizens killed or displaced.

        Russia is able to continue to sell its oil and gas, because Europe depends on them and China, India and other countries are happy to cut good deals to increase their purchases. It is unlikely that Putin will be overthrown, and while he is in power Russia will not cease its operations until its objectives are obtained.

        From the beginning, these objectives have been to exclude Ukraine from NATO, and to get Ukraine to recognise Crimea as part of Russia and an independent status for Donetsk and Luhansk. At this point, those war aims remain. If Russia is able to extend its controlled territory to include the band from Mariupol to Odessa, cutting off Ukraine entirely from the sea, those war aims might expand. Similarly, if Kyiv were to fall, it’s war aims might expand.

        So at this point the question is not whether Russia was justified in invading Ukraine. Clearly they violated international norms in doing so and are conducting the war in violation of international law, particularly as regards targeting civilians.

        The question for the US instead is what the US should do at this point that best serves its interests, having failed to prevent the invasion. I do not think the US and its allies are in a position to stop the war through the use of force. Doing so would risk a wider conflict they are desperate to avoid. Nor are they willing to take the steps necessary to stop the flow of funds to Russia’s war machine, because Europe is dependent on Russian oil and gas and the US won’t sanction China. Half measures risk driving non-aligned countries toward Russia and China to the long term detriment of the US.

        That leaves a negotiated settlement, which would have to give Russia much of what it wants. This will happen sooner or later. The sooner it happens, the less destruction of Ukraine there will be and the more limited Russian demands will be. And the less risk that the war will expand into a wider conflict and that US interests will be further eroded.

        That there are now only bad choices is a consequence of Biden’s failure to act effectively, either through deterrence or through negotiations, to avoid the invasion he knew was coming.

        1. It is well understood that the NATO issue was fake. Russia did not invade Ukraine because Ukraine in the future might join NATO. Russia did not “violate international norms” they committed and are committing a campaign of war crimes and crimes against humanity. And Biden, along with all the other EU leaders had no way to stopping this short of putting NATO troops in Ukraine.

          1. By whom is it “well understood”? Kennan, Kissinger and Mearsheimer, as well as others, warned of exactly this. The first Russian objective in its offer of a negotiated settlement before the war was Ukraine’s neutrality. That has been consistently articulated as a principal war aim since then. But you know otherwise.

            1. The problem with the US and NATO today is there is no one loft capable of playing the game of Brinkmanship. Western leaders at this point should be publicly and loudly asking Putin and the Russian people just exactly how many Russian cities are they willing to trade for Ukraine, Crimea, and the Donbass. It appears Putin has realized that the threat of, and willingness to use nuclear weapons to back up their demands. So long as we are unwilling to do the same he has a free hand.

              We need to make it clear that if he wants to rule over an empire and world of rubble and glass covered by the snows of Nuclear Winter, we are more than capable and willing to do so. Is Ukraine really worth 60 or 70 million Russian lives, because that should be the implied price.

              The only way to deal with crazy is to out crazy them.

        2. Zelensky to Fareed Zakaria: “I’m ready for negotiations with [Putin]. I was ready for the last two years. And I think that without negotiations, we cannot end this war. If there’s just 1% chance for us to stop this war, I think that we need to take this chance.”

          Putin made no attempt to negotiate directly with Zelensky before invading. Don’t pretend that this is Biden’s fault. It’s Putin’s fault.

          1. A while ago they (Medvedev, I think it was) explained that they see no point in negotiating with Zelensky, because they consider him a puppet. They decided that they will only negotiate with the puppet-master, in Washington. And that’s when the list of proposals/demands was sent to the US government.

          2. It is of course the case that Putin invaded Ukraine. It is also true that Biden failed to stop him, either through an effective deterrent or a negotiated settlement. Putin proposed the latter, and Biden rejected his proposals, the main one being that Ukraine remain outside NATO.

            Since 2014, when the US helped remove a Russia-oriented freely and fairly elected government and helped replace it with a handpicked US/EU/NATO-oriented successor, Putin has viewed Ukraine as a client state of the US, with some reason. So he addressed his proposals to the power behind the throne.

            Biden chose not to engage Russia on its main proposal knowing the following:

            1. Putin planned to invade if his proposal was not addressed;

            2. Neither the US nor NATO would fight on Ukraine’s behalf, as Biden repeatedly stated, so there was no military deterrent;

            3. The EU was dependent on Russian oil and gas, so trade in Russian oil and gas could not be interrupted through sanctions;

            4. As Biden said shortly after the war began, the sanctions that could be imposed were never expected to deter Putin; and

            5. China would support Russia if they invaded, as shown by the failed diplomatic effort in the Fall and early Winter, so Russia could not be isolated economically.

            Because Biden knew all this, he was faced with the choice of seeking to negotiate a settlement that would involve excluding Ukraine from NATO or facing an invasion. He chose not to engage in this negotiation and thereby chose to accept the invasion. I thought then that this was the wrong decision, and am even more convinced of it now.

            1. Biden is not the President of Ukraine. Putin did not attempt to negotiate with Zelensky.

              You blame Biden. I blame Putin.

        3. “…and are conducting the war in violation of international law, particularly as regards targeting civilians”

          How do you know this? It doesn’t seem to be in their interest to kill civilians, while, arguably, their opponents do benefit, by amplifying the hysteria.

          I actually saw a bunch of videos of anti-Russian protests in cities they control; no one was trying to stop these protests. A few days ago leaders of Poland, Slovenia, and — I don’t remember — Czechia? visited Kiev. If it was as bad as you say: targeting civilians and all that, would they go there?

          1. I think it’s pretty clear that civilian facilities in a number of cities have been hit. As in Grozny and Aleppo, it appears to be part of Russian military strategy here to bombard cities without distinguishing between military and civilian targets. They gradually reduce the cities to rubble. Mariupol is the prime example thus far. More will follow, until a settlement is reached that gives Russia most of what it wants. In the end, the settlement will likely be worse for Ukraine than what could have been negotiated to prevent the invasion in the first place.

            1. I might also add that this is not unique to Russia. From March 19, 2003 into April, the US shock and awe bombing campaign in Iraq killed 7,186 civilians. Thus far, according to the UN, the Russians have killed under 1,000 civilians in Ukraine, though there likely have been more.

              1. “Thus far, according to the UN, the Russians have killed under 1,000 civilians in Ukraine, though there likely have been more.”

                The number I saw earlier today was ~750. But a lot of it has to be Donbass civilians killed by Kiev-controlled forces. And some (hundreds, probably) are dead because tens of thousands of AKs and RPGs (and a million of rounds of ammo) were distributed by the Kiev regime to anyone willing to take them.

                So, if the UN count is right, it’s probably something like 4-500 civilian deaths (in 4 weeks) that can be attributed to the Russian forces.

            2. “As in Grozny and Aleppo, it appears to be part of Russian military strategy here to bombard cities without distinguishing between military and civilian targets”

              I beg to differ. Not a military man, but I’m pretty sure they could level Kiev (and/or any other city) in a couple of days, if they wanted to. The fact that their advance is so slow tells me that they’re trying to avoid the Grozny scenario. Aleppo, I don’t know what really happened there: I’m only familiar with the western narrative.

              “Mariupol is the prime example thus far.”

              Mariupol is the city controlled by the Azov battalion. Azov is … well, let’s check wikipedia: “Azov, is a right-wing extremist,[1][2] neo-Nazi,[3][4][5] formerly paramilitary unit of the National Guard of Ukraine,[6][7][8] based in Mariupol, in the Azov Sea coastal region.”

              Whatever explosions/atrocities happen there, whatever info is distributed from there, re-read this wikipedia quote before giving it any credence.

              1. Whatever the Azov Battalion may be doing, it is pretty clear that the Russians are hitting civilian targets. Denying that appears to me to be denying reality and undermines the credibility of your other arguments.

                1. I am not denying anything, I merely refuse to uncritically accept propaganda. Especially war-time propaganda.

                  You’re claiming that “the Russians are hitting civilian targets” (presumably you mean: ‘deliberately targeting and killing civilians’). It’s up to you to provide the evidence. If you care, of course.

                  1. They have repeatedly hit civilian targets. They did the same in Grozny and Aleppo. From that I infer they either intend to do that or do not care if they do that. Even in a court of law intent or other states of mind may be inferred from conduct. You can choose not to make that inference if you wish, but it strikes me as wilful blindness.

  14. “… in an unprovoked war”

    Isn’t this what official propaganda likes to call “claiming without evidence”? Some would say it’s very much provoked. 8 years of war against eastern breakaway regions with no end in sight, cutting the water supply to Crimea, eastward NATO expansion, etc. You may say that you don’t feel there were sufficient reasons, but plainly “unprovoked”? Doesn’t see seem reasonable, in this commenter’s opinion.

    1. It is most unprovoked. It takes quite the Russian stooge to say otherwise. If you make inquires to purchases a rifle and join a gun club, that is not provoking your neighbor to burn down your house and murder your family.

      1. What about NATO bombing Serbia in 1999, and then occupying a large chunk of its territory and building military bases there?
        Was that provoked?
        …and if it wasn’t, did you shill the same way back then, demanding financial ruins for the NATO countries?

        1. NATO set this in motion in 1999 with the bombing of Serbia, which was forced to give up Kosovo after being attacked by this defensive alliance. The prosecutor at the ICTY proposed investigating NATO for war crimes, including the destruction of a passenger train (with passengers) while targeting a bridge, but dropped the idea because NATO refused to cooperate, so Louise Arbour could not acquire evidence and the ICTY itself was heavily dependent on NATO to do so in the former Yugoslavia. The ICTY, by the way, used anonymous witnesses and hearsay, unlike the post-1945 tribunals, which used documents. As a result, its appeals chamber has reversed more than one decision by its trial chamber, e.g., the Kupreski brothers and Gotovina.
          An “unprovoked” attack is rhetoric; states will react to perceived threats, e.g., the American doctrines of preventive and preemptive wars and the American invasion of Argentine territory (we gave the Malvinas to the British), Mexico (1913, 1916), the Dominican Republic (1965), Haiti (1915), Nicaragua (1920s), et al. The West recently formulated R2P to justify its attacks on states whose domestic policies it did not like, justifying itts attack on Syria, which gave ISIL room to roam. The US also invaded Syria without its government’s permission, unlike Russia, which was invited by Assad, who was the leader of Syria’s government, whatever you may think of him.
          The US and the EU exacerbated tensions with Russia in 2014 by snubbing the Olympics in Sochi and overthrowing the Ukraine’s legitimate government, whose election the OSCE had rated ‘free and fair.’ Yanukovich was not popular in Lvov/Lviv or Kiev/Kiyv, which are non-Russian-speaking areas, but he was very popular in Russian-speaking areas, so he was elected by a majority. When he refused the EU’s deal in 2013 and accepted Putin’s offer of $15 billion, Maidan was flooded with “protestors,” including neo-Nazi groups, who were primarily responsible for the violence and appear to have been the snipers shooting protestors. In February, Yanukovich agreed to new elections, but the armed opposition drove him from Kiev and occupied the Rada, driving his MPs out of the parliament as he fled to Russia. The new Rada immediately banned the Russian language (spoken by up to 40 percent of those living in Ukraine) and cancelled Russia’s 99-year lease on Sevastopol and offered the naval base there to NATO. Putin reacted by seizing Crimea and holding a referendum, which the West did not recognize, but other countries did.
          The ICC is a creation of the Treaty of Rome, it is not a ‘universal’ court and its constituents are states. International criminal courts, like the ICTY and ICTR, were created by the UNSC, a political, not a legislative body. The ICJ is the UN’s juridical body, but it resolves disputes between/among states, not individuals. For anyone interested in something beyond Wikipedia, you might want to read Casey’s article (cited in my previous comment); Yehuda Blum, “Consistently Inconsistent. The International Court of Justice and the Former Yugoslavia (Croatia v. Serbia), American J of International Law (April 2009); Andrea Bianchi, “Ad-hocism and the Rule of Law,” European J of IL (2002), and the articles she referces by Benoune and others; and Lilian Barria and Seven Roper, “How Effective are International Criminal Tribunals? International J of Human Rights (2005). You also may want to consider whether you supported the Croats and Slovenes in 1991, whether you supported ISIL or Syria’s legitimate government, whether you cheered for Armenia or Kazakhstan; whether you side with India or Pakistan; and whether you support the Saudi coalition or the Houthis, as sample tests of your moral compass.

          1. Well said, An old guy at 10:36 AM, but a bit long. And I don’t think any “moral compass” has anything to do with it. It’s not adultery or resume embellishment we’re talking about here.

            …you could’ve also mentioned that in December last year the Russian Federation sent a list of proposals (some say: demands) to the Biden administration; detailing their view on the minimal measures necessary to guarantee their national security.

            The most important and the most relevant demand was a pledge to keep Ukraine from NATO. Had the administration agreed, I believe there would’ve been no war. But the administration rejected it. And so, now it’s war (unsurprisingly) AND Ukraine won’t be in NATO. Should we conclude that the administration wanted this war?

            1. Mao: “Should we conclude that the administration wanted this war?”


              Maybe, but I wonder if that grants too much foresight to these people.

              The same result could be achieved by stupidity, a commodity found abundantly in the Biden Gang.

              1. We’ve been through this before-Obama, CIA & Hillary Clinton-taking out leader of Lybia-opened up a flood of immigrants form Africa into Europe-The Arab Spring rational-even Obama later said he made a mistake. “Regime Change” was their motto.

              2. You’re will understand if you study our history. Make it a short history of the last 40 years of Regime Change and Arab Spring-a theory of past presidential administrations.

          2. Old Guy,

            Thanks for all of that. It’s a valuable perspective that’s impossible to hear in most other quarters. I suspended belief on most reports because much did not sound quite right.

          3. Nicely stated the facts of world history during this short period of time just since the 1990’s-with more before , during and after. It is a rude awakening to understand the real world of many countries and those few powerful persons-leaders who desire to be in charge of it all.

        2. I recall NATO’s motivation was to stop genocide. Genocide is provoking to me.

          1. “Genocide is provoking to me”

            Not when it (arguably) goes on for 8 years in Donbass, apparently.
            But that’s okay. Everyone has the right to an opinion.

            1. Donbass was also Russia conducting military operations in Ukraine. You are a Russian troll.

              1. Yes, Mao, I tend to go on — a bad habit. I agree with you and appreciate your posts — had NATO accepted Russia’s ‘demands’ not to expand into its backyard, there would not have been an invasion. Mearsheimer, Walt, Kissinger, and Kennan understood this; Biden, Blinken, and Stoltenberg appear not to have grasped the obvious.
                Sammy, your heart, like Turley’s and all those who sympathize with the Ukrainian people, is in the right place — what is happening to them is a tragedy, but a foreseeable one. If you poke a bear enough times, it will attack you, and NATO has been poking the Russians since 1999. Moral arguments do not apply to international relations, except in the minds of human rights activists. I recall one HR acitivist at a conference some years ago who thought that the Croats were ethnically cleansing Muslims because they were ‘transferring’ those fleeing the fighting in Central Bosnia to Croatia, where they were given health care, jobs, and schooling for their kids. Some stayed on after 1995. It was a strange war, with Islamic jihadi (al Qaeda) arriving in Bosnia from the West through Croatia, as ethnic Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina fought both Muslims and Serbs, with the support of the Croat and Serb armies, and the Left in the West supported the Serbs, who were ethnically cleansing both Croats and Serbs. Ultimately the Croats defeated the Serbs and won the war for the Muslim. NATO played a minor role.
                International relations are not only not moral; they are often puzzling, so it is useful to look at things from all sides and separate moral indignation and sympathy for civilians who always suffer during a war from geopolitics, international law, and dispassionate analysis.
                Genocide is the attempted elimination of a people, which is why William Schabas argued that the executions at Srebrenica were mass murder, not genocide.
                The ICJ is not a criminal court; it settles disputes between states, it does not indict for war crimes.

          2. Sammy, I agree, the Balkans was horrible. I wasn’t enthusiastic about the intervention there, but I understood it. The NATO expansion, on the other hand, was probably unnecessary and definitely provocative. Our interference in the Maidan Revolution was also definitely provocative, and Ukrainian conduct in the Donbass is morally complicated at best. I think it would be immoral to escalate this conflict beyond defensive-arms shipments.

    2. Some younger persons may not know or understand the “Arab Spring” that was the “stimulus” to create wars by the USA in several countries-removing current leaders. Deaths occurred. Removing leaders -replacing with new leaders-making messes that was not our business. My or my-what we have wrought. Some have admitted-they were wrong in doing so.

  15. The use of aid freezes as a way of reducing cash flows to Russia through oil and gas deals is an odd policy. It punishes poorer nations who receive aid but leaves untouched richer nations who don’t. Germany and the EU more generally are principal buyers of Russian oil and gas. The nations mentioned here purchase much less. If the aim is to reduce cash flows to Russia by stopping oil and gas purchases, secondary sanctions that hit everyone would be better.

    That will not happen, of course, because Germany and the EU depend on Russian oil and gas, and Biden refuses to change US energy policy to promote increased production to reduce that dependency over time.

    China, which is a significant and growing buyer of Russian oil and gas, also remains untouched, despite their support for the invasion. Why is that? Perhaps because our government depends on China to finance its deficit and our financial, business, media, tech, pharma and educational elites who back this administration depend on China to maintain and increase their wealth.

    Punishing poorer nations in this way will only push them further into China and Russia’s orbits and increase pressure to reduce the significance of the dollar as a reserve currency. China could easily use its vast dollar reserves to replace any aid lost to these countries arising from this policy. It is unlikely that reduced aid would lead to a substantial reduction in cash flows to Russia. Feel good measures often have unintended consequences, and prudent management of foreign policy requires some foresight.

    1. Right on. China will cover Russia as will Iran if need be. Europe is in trouble for energy sources from Russia-which many refer to the “Gas Station”. China and Russia preparing to use their own currency instead of relying upon the Dollar as the standard currency for oil in world. That way they will not be harmed by any sanctions of the USA. Our debt is owned by China in the greater sceme of things. Decades old problem ignored by the USA.
      They can weaken the Dollar vallue, call in our debt- and poof- what is left?

      1. “The US gas industry has thousands of unused oil and gas permits.”

        Then there are the ignorant who fancy that they know more about energy production, than do the experts in the energy industry.

        Get your regulators and environmentalist destroyers out of the way, and there will be oil and gas aplenty (and back to $2/gallon gas).

        1. Actualy we were paying $1.67 per gallon-but we live in the country-not large cities-mainly farm agriculture area. Fifty-eight years ago-I paid $0.23 per gallon.

      2. sammy @ 9:26

        No, you are wrong. There are several thousand unused leases. The Biden administration has not issued the permits that would allow the leases to be drilled on. You have, on this and on other issues, been suckered in by administration propaganda. I encourage you to wise up.

      3. The US gas industry has thousands of unused oil and gas permits.

        Do you know what having permits means? This article will help explain.

        O’Scannlain also explained that “When a company acquires a lease, it makes a significant financial investment at the beginning of the lease in the form of a non-refundable bonus bid and pays additional rent until and unless it begins producing… Developing a lease takes years and substantial effort to determine whether the underlying geology holds commercial quantities of oil and/or gas. The lengthy process to develop them from a lease often is extended by administrative and legal challenges at every step along the way.”

  16. I’m so old I remember when the President of the United States worked, and succedded in getting the United States energy independent. And counseled Germany not to approve a pipeline that would cause dependency on a NATO enemy, Russia.

    That President Trump was a Foreign Relations genius.

    1. “succedded in getting the United States energy independent”?

      We imported Russian oil and gas when Trump was in office. Trump is no genius, though he proclaims himself to be one.

      1. Contracts have to be honored. The United States produced more than they consumed. Net exporter. In other words energy independent.

      2. You also ignored that a person you consider an idiot, correctly pointed out to Europe, the idiocy of NATO. An organization that was created to protect Europe from Russia. Spend $billions defending against Russia, then turn around and spend more $billions buying oil/gas from them. Declaring the obvious.

Comments are closed.