Editor’s note: This piece was adapted from a social-media post written as Russia’s war on Ukraine began.
Ukrainians are asking from bomb shelters and underground bunkers where Western democracies are right now. I ask the same. It has come to this. Despite my deep love for the United States of America, I am ashamed.
I did not expect American boots on the ground. I understood the United States’ position on engaging militarily with Russia, even if I may have personally other views.
However, I DO NOT understand why the West is not providing massive military supplies—in particular Stinger missiles, sniper rifles, Javelin anti-tank missiles, drones, and ammunition, since Ukrainians are willing to defend themselves. I DO NOT understand the slow rollout of economic, financial, and energy sanctions. I DO NOT understand why the West is not sanctioning all Russian state securities (not just those issued after March 1), all Russian state banks, the Central Bank of Russia, and all state-owned enterprises of Russia without exception. I DO NOT understand why the West has not expelled Russia from SWIFT or the Visa and Mastercard systems. I DO NOT understand why it took so long to sanction Putin (whether or not the West has access to his assets is irrelevant).
I DO NOT understand why the West has not sanctioned all of the Russian Duma, Cabinet, and National Security Council members and all their families. I DO NOT understand why the United States (and every other democratic country) has maintained air privileges for Russian airlines to fly to the United States. I DO NOT understand why Russian diplomats have not all been expelled from the United States (they have NO right to live in peace and freedom if they deny Ukrainians the same). I DO NOT understand why the West has not revoked the licenses of all Russian state media throughout the Western world. I DO NOT understand why the West has not publicly pilloried all the former government officials who serve on the boards of Russian state-owned enterprises.
I DO NOT understand why the West has not demanded that social-media platforms address inauthentic accounts tied to the Kremlin and spreading disinformation immediately—and sanction them from doing business with and monetizing Russia state accounts. I DO NOT understand why the West has not sanctioned all the Russian oligarchs (take the top two-hundred on the Forbes list) who have not disavowed Putin and his slaughter of Ukrainians. I DO NOT understand why the West has not called for a vote of the United Nations (UN) to expel Russia given it has made a mockery of the UN Charter with its violations. I DO NOT understand why the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe has not yet suspended Russia, as the Council of Europe has.
I DO NOT understand why the West has not yet canceled the visas of all Russian visitors, businesspeople, and students. I DO NOT understand why Americans are not pressuring US business to divest from the tyrant’s businesses, as the United States did in South Africa because of apartheid. I DO NOT understand why the West is not charging Putin with war crimes for targeting hospitals, orphanages, kindergartens, and residential buildings.
This is war. In war, you do everything humanly possible to stop the aggressor as quickly as humanly possible. The West must isolate the pariah.
“Never again” the West said after World War II. Here we are AGAIN.
Hundreds of people are dying—innocent, peaceful people who did nothing to provoke this other than breathe freedom.
I am ashamed. I do not understand.
Natalie Jaresko is a distinguished fellow at the Eurasia Center and former finance minister of Ukraine.