Sten Hankewitz: Russia should be embargoed and kicked out of everything

In the wake of the unprovoked Russian war against Ukraine, Vladimir Putin-led Russia should be kicked out of every single international organisation it’s a part of, and embargoed by the entire free world like Cuba was by the United States in 1962, Sten Hankewitz, the Executive Editor of Estonian World, writes.

It’s no secret that the Russian dictator, Vladimir Putin, wants to rebuild the Russian Empire. Putin, for whom the collapse of the Soviet Union was the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century”, is eyeing every country that once was part of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. Estonia, unfortunately, was both – part of the Russian Empire and then, after 22 years of independence, brutally and illegally occupied by the Soviet Union.

Fortunately for Estonia today, it’s a member of NATO and the European Union. While the latter may not provide a safety umbrella, the former should and hopefully will. Numerous dignitaries from NATO countries – most recently, the US president, Joe Biden personally in his address on 24 February – have assured that NATO is more unified today than ever and should any NATO member attack its members, the alliance will invoke its collective defence article and come to the aid of the attacked party. An attack on one is an attack on all.

A strong, coordinated response from the free world

This unprovoked military incursion against Ukraine, unprecedented in Europe since the Second World War, needs a strong, coordinated response from the free world. And just sanctions, unfortunately, aren’t going to work.

The United States can’t afford to go into war with Russia, at least not now, not until NATO or the US itself is attacked. No other country in the free world would have the military might to fight Russia, either. And no country in the world, including the US, would want to risk a Third World War. At least not yet.

But the US and other countries’ “severe” sanctions on Russia are hardly going to do the job. President Biden has promised new sanctions that include export blocks on technology, on Russian banks and corrupt billionaires, and the people close to the Kremlin. Unfortunately, as the Russian ambassador to Sweden, Viktor Tatarintsev, said a few weeks ago in an interview, “We shit on all your sanctions.”

A demonstration in Toronto, Canada, against Russia’s war against Ukraine, on 24 February 2022. Photo by JBouchez, shared under the Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 licence.

What the entire free world – from the US to the UK, to Australia, to Japan – should do is impose a total embargo on the Russian Federation. Short of a world war, this would be the best solution to deal with an aggressor at Russia’s scale. The free world should hurt Russia where it actually can feel the pain.

Russia needs to be isolated from the rest of the world like Cuba was embargoed by the United States in 1962. It needs to be a global embargo. Absolutely no exports to Russia from the free world, no free world citizens can visit it, no free world money would go to Russia. No iPhones. No Mercedeses. No Hermes purses. No Sony TVs. No Snickers bars.

Expel Russia from every international organisation

Also, Russia should be kicked out of every single international organisation it’s a part of, including the United Nations.

In addition, as British journalist Edward Lucas suggested, the Western states – NATO, the EU, the OECD – should withdraw all their ambassadors from Moscow and send their Russian counterparts home. “Close all Russian consulates, trade missions,” he suggested. Absolutely. Just do it.

Basically, the free world, the Western world should isolate Russia entirely. Leave it alone. Leave it marinating in its own ocean of excrement, the ocean Russia itself created.

Pariahs like Vladimir Putin don’t have a place in the world arena. Leaving him in his own shit, completely alone, completely isolated, that may actually send a message.

The opinions in this article are those of the author.

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