Opinion: Ending Russian aggression means stopping them from afar

It finally happened.

After months of immobility, Russia spear an invasion of Ukraine on Wednesday, sending missiles into airports, defense installations and towns across the country.

“Russia bears sole responsibility for the death and destruction this attack will cause, and the United States and our allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive manner,” President Joe Biden said in a statement. declaration released Wednesday by the White House. “The world will hold Russia accountable.”

As the world watches in horror, it is imperative that the United States and NATO make the right decisions in order to de-escalate the situation as smoothly as possible.

And the first thing we have to make sure is that not a single The American boot hits Ukrainian soil. Biden has been slowly increasing the number of troops in countries surrounding Ukraine, such as Germany, Poland and Romania. But so far, no US troops have been sent to Ukraine.

According to White House and national security correspondent David Sanger, it must stay that way.

This is because the last thing we want is a military encounter between the United States and Russia. If a single American gunshot hits a Russian soldier, that’s all Putin needs to declare war on the United States. And a war between the United States and Russia can escalate to an entirely different level than what we are seeing now with Ukraine – a nuclear war one.

“Russia is not an adversary like any other,” Sanger said. “It has more nuclear weapons than any other country on Earth. … Playing with superpowers is a whole other thing.

It’s a position Biden echoed in refusing to send troops to Ukraine.

“It’s not like we’re dealing with a terrorist organization,” Biden said in a NBC Interview of February 10. “We are dealing with one of the largest armies in the world. … It’s a world war when the Americans and Russia start shooting at each other.

According to Sanger, Russia’s ability to retaliate against the United States could lead to disaster.

“With countries in the past – Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia – the United States has always been in a dominant position,” Sanger said. “These countries do not have the capacity to come back to the United States. … But that is not the case if the United States were to come into conflict with Russia. The disaster scenarios are endless.

But that doesn’t mean we should sit idly by and watch the Russian takeover. The best response to Russia is one we can control from a distance, using our economic weapons.

And it starts with cutting Russia off from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT, a global messaging system that connects thousands banks and financial institutions around the world.

the Washington Post describes SWIFT as the “Gmail of the world bank“. Although it does not actually manage banking transactions, it controls communications between banks, transmitting secure messages to more than 11,000 financial institutions in more than 200 countries and territories.

According to Maria Shagina, Visiting scholar at the University of Birmingham’s Center for Russian, European and Eurasian Studies, cutting Russia off from Swift would be disastrous for its economy.

“TThe impact on the Russian economy would be equally devastating, especially in the short term,” Shagina wrote in a post. last year for the Carnegie Moscow Center. “Russia is heavily dependent on SWIFT due to its multi-billion USD-denominated hydrocarbon exports. The cut would put an end to all international transactions, trigger currency volatility and cause massive capital outflows.

According to Markos Zachariadis, professor and chair of financial technology and information systems at the University of Manchester, preventing access to SWIFT is like cutting a country off from the internet.

“Imagine all these organizations that operate online,” Kachariadis said. “They have their customers where they send information and transact without suddenly having access to that infrastructure.”

But the final blow to Russia could come from within the country itself.

the Washington Post reports that a survey of Russians in December found that only 8% believe Russia should send military forces to Ukraine. For Russia, ordinary citizens will also suffer, which could stoke national sentiment against an invasion of Ukraine and plummet Putin’s public approval. Putin, faced with a collapsing economy and Russian citizens against him, may have no choice but to stop the attack on Ukraine.

Russia may seem to be in control of the battlefield now, but it is the United States that has the power over the Russian economy from afar.

If we want to end this conflict as soon as possible, let’s turn our economic weapons towards Russia.

About Eleanor Blackburn

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