How to stop Putin

Fred Kaplan writes at Slate:

And so the main goal of the United States, the EU, and NATO should be to deter and dissuade Putin from moving his troops deeper into . There are two ways to do this, seemingly contradictory but actually (if well-managed) complementary. First, ratchet up the penalties. Second, leave room for diplomacy.

Crimea is gone and done, but the key is now to stop Putin there.

The penalties should include—right now—stepping up military deployments to the NATO allies, especially to Poland and the Baltic nations, which were once tied to the Soviet Union. Another: Draw up plans for containing and countering Russian troops in the event of an incursion into Ukraine—not sending U.S. or NATO troops, but shipping arms, maybe some advisers and black-bag Delta forces—and talk about these plans with the allies, and Ukrainian officials, on open phone lines. Putin surely knows the limits of his army. The ground forces in that sector of Russia could invade Ukraine, but they lack the resources and logistical lines to sustain an occupation for very long, especially in the event of even slight resistance. We have to make him realize we know these limitations, too.

Putin has won a tactical victory with the annexation of Crimea, but he has made a strategic blunder as all his neighbours are turning against him, and his dream of a Eurasian Union will die.

Finally, plans should be drawn up to flood Ukraine with Western money. Putin knows that the Warsaw Pact nations that joined the EU are much better off than those that didn’t. Freedman points out that, in 1990, just before the implosion of the Soviet Union, Poland’s GDP amounted to $64.5 billion, while Ukraine’s was a bit better at $90.2 billion. In 2012 Poland’s had skyrocketed to $489.9 billion, while Ukraine’s was much worse at $176.3 billion. Make plans to turn Ukraine into another showcase—another way of demonstrating to Russia’s thinning gang of allies that they’ve chosen the wrong side.

Shows the benefits of capitalism and trade.

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