Originally Published March 16, 2022
I can only imagine that in many households and social gatherings there are discussions addressing the strategies of how to resolve the unprovoked Russian aggression on Ukraine. I have participated in a few such discussions myself and they result in two conclusions.
The world is acting strong and doing well with sanctions disconnecting Russia from the global markets and crushing their economy. Ruble’s value has plummeted and in the coming days is expected to drop even more. To protect the value of Ruble, Russian Central Bank doubled interest rates to 20%, hoping that higher rates will increase the deposits to compensate for depreciation and inflation risks (not a good time to get a loan in Rubles). There is a concern that Russia will default on its $60bn debt (only 15% of its GDP; by comparison US debt is 100% of GDP). S&P Global, Moody’s Investor Services, and Fitch Rating downgraded Russian debt to “junk”. If Russia defaults on its debt, short term repercussions are not great but the long-term effects could be severe, loosing investors’ trust will shut the door for Russia to raise money. (Today: Russia claims that it has attempted to make interest payments on government bonds).
International businesses are shutting Russia off from the global markets and suspending their business operations with Russia; big names include: McDonalds, Coca-Cola, General Electric, Disney, Warner Brothers, Sony Entertainment, Adidas, Nike, Puma, H&M, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Dell, a long list of automakers, Boeing, Airbus, BP, Exxon, the list continues with Industrial, Logistics, Telecom companies, etc.
In the instances where businesses hoped to profiter from war in Ukraine, in a matter of hours with a tremendous backlash of human opinion and social networking pressures, corporations reversed their poor decisions. Examples include:
Shell who purchased 100,000 metric tons of Russian oil at a record discount.
Initially Shell was defending its decision but after hearing from the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kuleba: One question to Shell: Doesn’t Russian oil smell of Ukrainian blood for you? and hearing from many of us consumers who pledged never to buy gasoline from Shell again; the company pivoted and communicated their commitment to contribute profits from the Russian oil purchase to fund humanitarian aid for Ukraine and changed their future business direction:
Another example is a Japanese garment company Uniqlo, initially stating that they will continue doing business in Russia because, “Clothing is a necessity of life. The people of Russia have the same right to live as we do,” stated by Yanai, CEO of parent Fast Retailing (March 8, 2022). Based on the social networking pressure the decision was reversed and the current official company position is for Uniqlo to suspend operating their 50 stores in Russia (March 11, 2022):
Global hope is that without entering into an active warfare the external pressures building up on Russia will cause Russia to withdraw from Ukraine.
Maybe oligarchs who are currently frozen from fully enjoying their wealth will act (living in their Crimean dachas, they are not suffering like the common Russians, but I am sure it aggravates them not to be able to take their yachts to foreign countries and to freely access their funds).
Maybe Russian population suffering from economic sanctions will miss BigMacs, Apple phones and watches, Dell computers, cars, entertainment and will uprise and act (these people have been suppressed for so long, I am not sure if they know how to act up against their government).
Maybe generals in the Russian army seeing the unpopular war will consider coup d’etat (they do risk trials for war crimes)?
The world is not acting strongly enough and not supporting Ukraine as much as it should. Western world is repeating history by providing strong verbal commitments but delivering weak actions. We hear slogans such as: Slava Ukraini, recently these words were delivered by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi prior to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s address to the US Congress; I am writing this piece just after watching the address. What a powerful message alluding to Perl Harbor and September 11th; with the final summation: Today, it’s not enough to be the leader of the nation… Being the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace. Video shown as part of the address depicting Ukraine before the attack and Ukraine now in the mids of war, was emotionally powerful and heartbreaking. With the final caption: Close the sky over Ukraine. I wish the world would grant Ukraine the ask because the applause for President Zelenskyy’s speech is simply not enough. Closing the skies over Ukraine does not equate to NATO attacking or declaring war on Russia (even if Russia choses to call it so); fear not, do the right thing. Ukraine is an independent country and in a globally public address, the President of Ukraine asked. Honoring the ask is not a declaration of war it is a response to a request. I hope that in addition to the United States authorizing $800 million dollars in additional military/security aid to Ukraine and Democrats and Republicans joining together to pass a resolution condemning Vladimir Putin as a war criminal, Western world will agree to Close the skies over Ukraine.