Sanctions are never going to be effective given that Europe is largely dependent upon Russian oil and gas, with some countries, e.g. Lithuania, being 100% dependent. Germany is foolishly dismantling its nuclear power plants, putting in on a course to join Lithuania as a captive to Russia. Russia is pleased over German's decision and announced that "Gazprom is ready to help."
Russian assistance has been clear from the beginning of the conflict: armored personnel carriers, T-64 tanks, shoulder-held Man Portable Air-Defense Systems, Grad rocket launchers, Tornado rocket launchers, and now Buk surface-to-air missiles.
Now Russia is planning "to deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers" to the separatists. Russia has already fired artillery across its border targeting Ukrainian military positions in a clear escalation.
A different approach is needed:
- Cage the peacock: Putin has a world-class ego and requires constant stroking in the form of strutting on the world stage. Putin must be banned from attending ceremonies of any kind outside Russia, whether sporting, cultural, or political. Preventing his basking in the glow of a global audience may be the most effective sanctions of all.
- Isolate Russia from world events: The 2018 World Cup must be reassigned to a country other than Russia. To make it easy, choose a country in Europe with existing facilities. Politicians in the Netherlands, Germany, and the U.S. are already discussing this, given that Putin's goal is to showcase Russia at the event. FIFA has rejected these calls, proving that none of their relatives were on MH17. No other sporting or cultural events should be scheduled in Russia until Putin dies in office in the manner of Soviet general secretaries and Russian tzars.
- Isolate Russia economically: Economic sanctions are good, but given how intertwined the world's economy is with Russia, especially that of Europe, this can only be taken so far. London's financial district will fight sanctions because it diminishes bankers' wallets. As I wrote before, the U.S. must stop buying Russian rocket engines. Evict Russia from the WTO.
- Bring Finland into NATO: As I wrote before, Putin is attempting to reconstitute the Soviet Union. The next victim may be Finland. It must be brought into NATO before Putin starts another game.
- Fight missiles with missiles: Russian separatists have proven themselves to be brutal killers not unlike the ruthless Bolsheviks who founded the Soviet Union. Their lethal toys must be neutralized. The U.S. should analyze its satellite imagery and note when rocket or missile launchers are brought to an area for use. Then cruise missiles fired from Poland, Ukraine, Romania, or the Black Sea could destroy them. Putin would have a difficult time complaining about the destruction of rockets and missiles he says do not exist. However, due to orbital mechanics, satellites cannot be parked over Ukraine to constantly monitor the movements of Russian rockets and missiles, so the missions would need to be hurried during a satellite pass. The decision to retire and not replace the SR-71 has proven to be a foolish one because it would have allowed for on-demand imagery. If some Russian separatists not directly involved in the action are killed, it might be poetic justice given how they are desecrating and robbing MH17's dead.