10 June 2021

Time to End Putin's Impunity

At its summit on 14 June, NATO "should commit the maximum defensive support possible short of membership to Ukraine as a neighbour whose security, prosperity and territorial integrity are essential to regional stability", argue Jeff Lovitt and Jan Piekło in Time to End Putin's Impunity, a new commentary piece for bne IntelliNews. "Words of support alone are not enough to deter Moscow," they write. In order to be able to focus on the threats posed by a rising power, China, they argue that NATO must "act swiftly to put in place robust defences in the Baltic states, Romania and Poland to deter destabilisation and interference by a weaker, but dangerous, anti-democratic power in Europe – Russia".

Writing ahead of the NATO summit that takes place in Brussels on 14 June, and the summit between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva two days later, the authors – two of the co-founders of New Diplomacy – argue that Biden "should leave Putin in no doubt that the days of impunity are over". They continue: "The price faced by Russia for aggression must be too high for the Kremlin to countenance, and this is the message that Biden should deliver to Putin – and act upon."

"NATO members must expel Russian agents, build up a secure system for sharing intelligence information and enhance data security to prevent cyberattacks on governments, hospitals, and energy and water supplies," write Lovitt and Piekło. "They should increase sanctions against strategic Russian economic interests for every Kremlin-ordered cyber-attack against a NATO country. At the 14 June summit, NATO should announce its determination to apply sanctions with steadily increasing costs to pressure Russia to withdraw from eastern Ukraine and Crimea, likewise from Transnistria in Moldova, and Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia."

Moscow’s motivation to interfere "will evaporate when the Kremlin understands that it will pay a high economic and political price for its aggressive behaviour", write Lovitt and Piekło. If Biden delivers this message in Geneva, backed up by the launch of heightened and visible NATO readiness, "Putin will be left in no doubt that the West is ready and determined to defend democracy and the international rule of law and to deter Moscow’s aggression and interference – and NATO can focus its attention on the looming challenge of China."

The full piece can be accessed here.

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