If Ukraine Wins the War, Putin Will Be Gone

The U.S. must expand its financial and energy sanctions to damage Putin, and must deliver as many lethal weapons as Zelensky needs. This is the road to regime change in Russia. 

Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin pool photo via AP, file
President Putin in March. Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin pool photo via AP, file

There’s no clear proof that a Ukraine victory is part of President Biden’s agenda. 

That’s according to Garry Kasparov, the Russian chess grandmaster and human rights advocate, who also made an important related point: A bunch of people in the administration see the Ukraine war as a distraction from their ultra-left-wing domestic agenda and therefore would just as soon end the war at any cost, including territorial concessions by President Zelensky. 

These are strong points.

Remember John Kerry saying that he worried the war would interrupt the radical green new deal climate change movement? it was an incredibly stupid statement.

Mr. Kasparov made what I thought was a brilliant point: “They are not sure whether they want Ukraine to win, because if Putin’s regime collapses — and by the way, Ukraine winning the war and recovering all territories, Crimea included, is synonymous to the collapse of Putin’s regime. And it’s a … it’s a paranoia.”

In other words if Ukraine can win and Russia loses, then Vladimir Putin is kaput. Gone. Regime change will be upon him.

Mr. Kasparov agreed with President Biden’s original statement that Mr. Putin must go. I thought it was the best sentence in his whole presidency, but then everybody in his administration walked it back, which was a terrible mistake. 

What Mr. Kasparov is saying, is that the U.S. must expand its financial and energy sanctions to damage Mr. Putin, and must deliver as many lethal weapons as President Zelensky needs. This is the road to regime change in Russia. 

Vladimir Putin is a war criminal, and it’s good to see President Biden stepping up that rhetoric.

The horrific evidence and pictures from Bucha and Mariupol and elsewhere — crimes against humanity, mass graves, the killing of innocent civilians, the elderly, women, children, attempting to level out major cities — is, I think, having a positive impact on the lead-from-behind Biden administration.

The president may — just may — be stepping up his game on defending Ukraine. Mr. Biden today repeated his support for war crime trials and inquiries. Look, Vladimir Putin is a war criminal, a madman, and a crook. 

He’s been stealing from the Russian people for decades. He’s the biggest, most oligarchical kleptomaniac of them all, holding public office for more than three decades and reportedly accumulating more than $200 billion in wealth. 

Elon Musk is reportedly worth $267 billion, but he earned it. Mr. Putin stole it. Mr. Biden has put sanctions on him, but once again I ask why haven’t we seized his $700 million yacht sitting off the coast of Italy? Take it, and say: In your face, Vladimir Putin.

The U.S. and Spain just seized a relatively tiny $90 million rowboat from a Russian oligarch. Now it’s time to hit the big fish.

By the way, the U.S. Treasury just blocked a $600 million Russian payment on its sovereign debt, forbidding any use of Russian-owned dollar reserves held at U.S. banks. That’s a very good step.

It puts Russia on the road to debt default and total bankruptcy. But we still have to go after the Russian energy sector, where exports are running one-third above a year ago and financing Mr. Putin’s war machine to the tune of more than $300 billion. 

We need to thoroughly sanction — without loopholes — all the Russian banks, including the central bank, and move toward secondary bank sanctions around the world.

As I’ve said, the Russian ruble has rallied 40 percent in recent weeks. That tells me we are not choking off their finances yet. 

A new set of sanctions is to be announced shortly and we’ll see if they’re sufficiently tough. Reagan used to say, “We win, they lose.”

Mr. Biden is closer to that than he was a month ago, but Garry Kasparov is right: He’s not there yet. It’s time to get there. Because if we do, we will rid the world of Vladimir Putin the dictator, the war criminal, and the crook. 

And we will have done so without putting one American troop on the ground in Ukraine. Think of it.

From Mr. Kudlow’s broadcast on Fox Business News.

The New York Sun

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