March 21, 2014
Putin Interprets the West's Gradualism as a Sign of Weakness
By Editors of the Wall Street Journal
The Obama policy of gradually increasing sanctions treats Mr. Putin like a wayward son who can be brought in line if he's grounded for a couple weeks. It ignores that he is a determined revanchist leading a nuclear-armed nation that wants to rewrite the post-Cold War order in Europe and dominate its neighbors up to the German border. Mr. Putin views gradualism as a sign of weakness.
The better strategy is to impose enough immediate and substantial pain on Mr. Putin, his friends and the Russian economy that he'll decide that the costs of his depredations are higher than the costs of stopping. That means comprehensive financial sanctions that force the world's banks to choose between doing business with the U.S. or with Russia.
Mr. Obama should also signal a commitment to end Russia's dominance in European energy by immediately approving all U.S. natural gas export terminal applications. And he should announce that next week during his trip to Europe he and the other G-7 leaders will discuss plans to provide military aid to Ukraine and forward deploy American and European forces to front-line NATO states.