Published May 12, 2022
BY MARCUS MICHIE
Russia’s territorial incursions have tormented Eastern Europe and continue to undermine principles of international peace and security. In the face of the Russia-Ukraine war, debate has risen concerning the power of the United States’ policies in deterring Moscow from their imperial agenda. Without instigating World War III, there is little more U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration can do.
One of the principles of U.S. foreign policy in punishing Russia has been through economic means, such as the imposition of financial sanctions targeting aerospace, marine and electronics sectors of the Russian Federation’s economy. Intending to restrict the federation from technological imports integral to their war effort, export controls as well as a ban on the importation of Russian energy products by the U.S. continue to deteriorate Russia’s economic health.
American lawmakers have demanded harsh economic penalties on Moscow and largely denounced military interventionism. Though some Americans criticize Biden’s involvement in the Ukraine crisis as insufficient, due to the potential for a global military crisis to break out, his administration is reluctant to directly engage Russia, excluding moralist reasons, and is thus acting in the best interest of America.
Due to the rules of engagement outlined by Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s charter, if a NATO member is attacked, it is considered an act of aggression against all of the member states. Thus, if American soldiers were to engage with Russians forces while deployed in Ukraine, it would force the 29 other NATO nations to involve themselves in the conflict.
Moreover, there is minimal national security interest in directly supporting Ukraine. It is not a bordering state or a major trade partner, nor does it contain a U.S. military installation.
Instead of military intervention, the U.S. has turned to economic penalties. In order to insure that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his cronies suffer for their aggression, the U.S. restricted the oligarchy from accessing assets stored in the U.S. financial system, such as yachts and mansions.
In further penalization of Putin and his oligarchs, Biden’s administration provided Ukraine with an additional $13.6 billion in economic, humanitarian and military aid amid their defense against Russia’s invasion in March. Prior to this, the U.S. had provided Ukraine with approximately $7.3 billion in security and non-security assistance since 2014.
Despite some Americans insisting that the Biden administration is standing on the sidelines during the crisis, financial assistance is a productive manner of supporting Ukraine without endangering American lives. In fact, past administrations have employed a similar strategy in condemning Russia for their territorial invasions. In response to Russia’s full-scale military incursion of Georgia, U.S. President George W. Bush’s administration reduced relations between Russia and America, including freezing the U.S.-Russia Civil Nuclear Agreement and ceasing their support for Moscow’s request to join the World Trade Organization.
Years later, during U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration, the nation’s strategy implemented similar measures as the Bush administration. Obama’s policy was the imposition of visa and financial sanctions targeted at individual Russians. Compounded with the administration’s economic sanctions on various sectors of the Russian economy, including finance, energy and defense, Obama’s response strongly influenced Biden’s foreign policy.
Despite some Americans continuing to disapprove of Biden’s methods of aiding Ukraine, his administration is doing all that is feasible in admonishing Russia for their crimes against humanity.