Putin's response to western hostility has been woefully inadequate
I must admit that I am slowly losing track: How many times have the USA, the EU, and Canada actually toughened and extended sanctions against Russia? I don't know and I suspect that Mr. Putin does not count any longer as well.
I imagine how every day a secretary presents Vladimir Putin with an updated list of sanctions together with his morning post; he briefly runs over the list and then focuses on the weather forecast for the Moscow metropolitan area.
Of course, the serenity and prudence of the Russian President are admirable and have also contributed to the fact that today Ukraine is not completely aflame. But has Putin's reluctance to respond forcefully really appeased the US/EU-aggressors and discouraged them from taking a further swing at Russia? The answer is NO! Quite the opposite: In fact, without that kind of fear of adequate response from Russia it results in further sanctions and threats of even more severe ones until peace is set up in Ukraine (which would be a nightmare for the United States and NATO...). Obama assures weekly that "the price will significantly increase for Russia if Putin does not ultimately back down". But when, I wonder, will Mr Putin also increase the costs for the US and the EU?
The appreciation of Putin’s commitment at the Minsk-2 talks on behalf of the EU was just obnoxious. Only thanks to his effort at the 17-hour negotiations marathon in Minsk the rebels agreed to the conditions of ceasefire, so that Merkel and Hollande could provide a "success".
And what happened the next day? Words of praise for Putin? Alleviation of tension between the EU and Russia? Of course not. Instead the extended sanctions were imposed on Russia. Now they are even considering the exclusion of Russia from the SWIFT-system; the United States, England and Canada will send the first contingent of "military advisors" (i.e. soldiers) to Ukraine; the NATO-bases in the Baltic states will be reinforced, and the German Minister of War Von der Leyen wants to deploy a new tank battalion.
And how did the Russians answer? Ban on imports of cheese from Poland! No, this is not a joke – it was really the toughest retaliation from Putin recently – no more cheese from Poland. This message did not end up on the front page of New York Times, and I am afraid that even in Pentagon there was no bursting out into panic about that.
When will Putin finally increase the costs in turn, and namely in a way that hurts the anti-Russian alliance and deters them from further aggression? You do not need to respond like the exasperated authorities of North Korea do when Obama ridicules the "beloved Leader". In such cases Kim Jong-un is not afraid to speak of the "final nuclear destruction of the imperialist villain state“.
Even if the North Korean rhetoric seems a bit excessive, it is effective. The Americans, not knowing whether Kim Jong-un is now simply crazed (which I do not believe) or just clearly defines the cost of any US-aggression, take care not to go too far. Kim could actually – if he was really angry – push one of the red buttons....You are not sure, but it is daunting.
And that’s what it‘s all about: Russia must respond more notably to unjustified sanctions – and it is necessary to do this right now, before the spiral of "sanctions" continues to rotate. Instead of banning Polish cheese just impose a one-year flyover ban on the European airlines (wasn’t that on the agenda once?). Of course certain differences can be made: The Austrians are still welcome, while tariffs for Polish and British airlines are determined for a three-year period.
The Kremlin should fine-tune its rhetoric: I jerk every time Putin speaks about "our European and American partners“. Partners? I have definitely misheard something. How can Vladimir Putin call Obama a partner? Of course, he must not use Kim’s term "jungle monkey". But something in between would certainly be more appropriate.