Sanctioning Russia Won’t Save Ukraine – The Organization for World Peace

The United States, European Union, Britain, Canada, Australia, Switzerland and Japan have imposed sweeping and crippling economic sanctions, travel bans and other restrictions in response to Russia’s relentless assault on Ukraine. Unfortunately, they are unlikely to make a difference.

Political scientist Robert Pape has proven beyond doubt, in a large study of 115 different cases, that economic sanctions simply do not work and are counterproductive. Modern nations, and powerful states like Russia in particular, tend to have a remarkable ability to withstand various forms of external pressure. Pape stressed that sanctions targeting patriotic corporations are doomed to failure because they exacerbate nationalist sentiments that allow governments to defy such pressures. They could even bolster the legitimacy of leaders like Vladimir Putin instead of undermining them.

More importantly, Pape’s study found that the longer sanctions are imposed, the less likely they are to succeed in achieving their goals, whether that be the withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine or the eventual collapse of the Putin’s regime due to domestic unrest. On the contrary, long-term sanctions increase the likelihood of a military confrontation later.

Sanctions will not force Putin out of Ukraine or bring about a quick and peaceful resolution to the conflict. They will, however, help consolidate his grip on power, embolden the security services to ruthlessly crush dissent, ignite a violent xenophobic backlash at home, and compel Russian soldiers to wage war with renewed vigor, to the detriment of thousands, if not millions, of Ukrainians. .

Russia has a long history of resistance and destructive reaction to blockades and international offensives. Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812 with his Grand Army, which included many German, Austrian, Swiss, Italian, Polish, Danish and even Irish soldiers, deeply marked the Russian psyche. The Battle of Borodino, immortalized by Leo Tolstoy in his epic novel War and peace, ended with the slaughter of about 45,000 Russian soldiers in a single day. This bloodbath traumatized a generation and ingrained in Moscow’s leaders a deep fear of external aggression and encirclement that persists to this day.

Historians Alexander Morrison and Alexander Polunov argue that when the Napoleonic Wars finally ended in 1815, triumphant Russian generals and aristocrats, desperate to make up for humiliating losses against the French and eager to project Russian power across the world, pursued an expansionist foreign policy in Central Asia. throughout the 19e century. These colonial ambitions culminated in the violent annexation of territories we now call Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Bonaparte’s calamitous multinational incursion fueled the rise of Russian imperialism, galvanized Russian nationalism, and enabled the Tsar and his warmongering, reactionary, and authoritarian elites to militarize Russian society.

The Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War of 1917-1922 is another disturbing illustration of what could happen when a coalition of hostile states encircle Russia. Fourteen nations, including the United States, Britain, France, Japan, Poland and Greece, supported the “white” remnants of the old tsarist order against the “red” Bolsheviks of Vladimir Lenin. This crusade to strangle the Bolshevik threat, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, backfired drastically. Patriotic Russians rallied in support of a local “red” tyranny rather than allying with a Western-sponsored “white” tyranny.

Britain’s involvement in the Russian Civil War was particularly disastrous. Steven Balbirnie says that many British officers, veterans of counter-insurgency campaigns in India, South Africa, Burma and Egypt, treated local populations in northern Russia as colonial subjects. Major-General Frederick Poole had to be removed from his post for his “colonial-style aggressive behavior” towards the Russian authorities. His tacit support for unpopular former Tsarist officers did not win him any friends either. The fact that British soldiers preserved law and order in the name of a ruthless dictator like Alexander Kolchak in Siberia, according to international relations expert Frederick L. Schuman, probably drove countless Russians into the arms of the equally brutal Bolsheviks.

Britain’s use of terror to pacify Bolshevik supporters also alienated local Russians. Royal Air Force (RAF) pilot Eric John Furlong has admitted that British bombers dropped poison gas in northern Russia. Some attacks saw British aircraft release phosphorous gas directly at ground targets. These terrorist tactics were flagrant violations of the rules of war even then. Moreover, according to Lauri Kopisto, RAF squadrons almost bombed Moscow. Churchill, fearing a backlash at home and abroad, called off the operation at the last minute.

General Edmund Ironside, with French allies, ran what the BBC called the British concentration camp on Mudyug Island north of Archangel in northern Russia. This establishment housed suspected Bolshevik sympathizers, although, as the British did not know whom to trust, they often rounded up “anyone who seemed suspicious”. Hundreds were executed, tortured and died of disease. Guards punished internees who tried to escape by locking them in “ice cells”. Historian Liudmila Novikova says that in Soviet times, Archangel strangers were expected to visit Mudyug and witness “the atrocities committed by their compatriots and their governments”. Memorial plaques dedicated to the victims still litter the landscape of the Isle of Death today.

The British forces deployed in the Caucuses also behaved like Imperial lords and as members of a “superior race”. London saw the short-lived independence of Azerbaijan and Georgia during the civil war as a perfect opportunity to plunder Baku’s oil reserves. Afgan Akhmedov says Baku’s military governor, General William Thomson, imposed martial law, banned public meetings and strikes, refused to reintroduce shorter working hours and instituted exploitative economic measures that deepened the unemployment and hunger. Britain’s strategy of division to rule the region, unwittingly or not, has also inflamed ethnic tensions between Armenians and Azeris.

The Azeris did not look kindly on the generally odious conduct of the British occupier. War-weary British troops indulged in drunkenness, hooliganism, promiscuity and disobedience. Widespread disaffection and resentment of London’s mismanagement in Baku played into the hands of the Bolsheviks, who took advantage of workers’ unrest and armed peasant uprisings in the Azeri countryside to eventually reintegrate Azerbaijan into Russia.

Moreover, Churchill and General Herbert Holman sent arms, tanks, planes and ammunition to a regime guilty of heinous atrocities against the Jewish populations of southern Russia. A pathological anti-Semitism has infected all layers of the White Army. Cossack regiments routinely plundered Jewish property, plundered villages, raped women, and murdered Jews with impunity.

Elias Heifetz, chairman of the Pogrom Relief Committee, estimated that the White Army massacres killed half of the approximately 100,000 Jews who perished in Ukraine. Yet British personnel embedded in the White Armies barely lifted a finger in protest, and some may have condoned these crimes. A British military agent based in Crimea advised a white general to solve Russia’s “Jewish question” in the same way white Australians treated Aboriginal people, namely extermination. Peter Kenez argues that young Russian Jews, who had no love for the Bolsheviks, joined the Red Army en masse to avenge their families and communities.

Scholars like John Munholland and Boris Egorov have amply demonstrated that Allied interventions in the Civil War did nothing but enrage ordinary Russians and provide material for the Bolshevik propaganda machine. In Ukraine, French warships bombarded a warehouse containing thousands of civilians and killed at least 500 people.

During this time, Japanese troops never hid their intentions to turn Russian territories in the Far East into a colony. Tokyo funded Cossack warlords, known for their corruption and cruelty, and ordered soldiers to export timber, coal, and fish to Japan on a large scale. Additionally, Japanese regiments beheaded dissidents and burned down local villages. More than a century later, memories of those horrific reprisals linger in Vladivostok.

Worse still, Allied intervention not only repaired what Frederick Schuman called “patterns of suspicion and hatred” between Russia and the West for decades: it helped radicalize an already bigoted communist regime. Faced with total annihilation, Vladimir Lenin turned Russia into a totalitarian state. The secret police, known as the Cheka, institutionalized terror and eliminated opponents with chilling efficiency, especially after one of their own experienced camps run by the Allies. Mikhail Kedrov, a member of Cheka, inspired by his time as a prisoner in Mudyug, opened a network of death camps in northern Russia which in turn killed thousands of innocent people.

Sanctions today, like the way Allied interventions unwittingly reinforced Lenin’s nascent Soviet autocracy, risk pushing Russian citizens to close ranks, rally to Putin’s regime and accept the illegal occupation of Ukraine. So what can we do to prevent history from repeating itself?

Professor Alfred W. McCoy has come up with an original solution: since Russia’s war has inflicted an estimated $668 billion in damage to civilian infrastructure, Ukrainians could ask the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to make implement its decision Ukraine v. Russia by awarding damages. The Council of Europe would then acquire the money by ordering all European companies and corporations buying gas from Russia’s Gazprom to deduct a significant amount from their payments for a Ukrainian compensation fund.

The longer the war drags on, the more Gazprom will lose billions in compensation. These losses will not be acceptable for very long and Putin will have no choice but to withdraw from Ukraine. This course of action has the added benefit of primarily punishing Gazprom and not the most vulnerable sectors of Russian society.

Aubrey L. Morgan