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Mistakes of the West

How Western governments have enabled Russian aggression and undermined democracy

March 3, 2023

September 22, 2022.  Updated March 3, 2023.

1. Europe is paying far more to Russia for fossil fuels than contributing support for Ukraine.  In early April 2022, the European Union had paid some 35 billion euros for Russian energy, but only 1 billion euros to fund Ukraine's defense: only one day's worth of payments to Russia.[1] This gap has continued. From Russia's full-scale invasion of February 24, 2022 through March 3, 2023, the European Union had paid 140 billion Euros to Russia for energy products, notwithstanding nominal sanctions.[2] Russian energy companies are state-owned; energy revenues have been the leading source funding Russia's military and weapons development.

2. European, US and British companies have continued to violate sanctions against Russia with impunity. Oleg Savytskiy wrote:

  • "The key source of Russia’s fossil fuel export earnings, and therefore funding for the invasion, is the European shipping industry. According to CREA, ships owned by Western companies or insured in the EU and the UK carry €310 million worth of Russian fossil fuels daily — 65% of the total value of Russian seaborne fossil fuel exports.""American, British, and European companies sell, deliver and insure Russian oil cargoes of the ESPO brand...apparently in violation of sanctions....The fact that companies registered in Europe are still trading Russian oil bypassing the embargo and are not held accountable for sanctions violations is doing great damage to all efforts to reduce the export revenues of Russian companies and the Kremlin’s tax revenues, which are used to finance the brutal war against Ukraine.[3]

3. Russia continues to manufacture missiles, drones, and other military gear using Western parts by evading sanctions through loopholes, shell companies and Western collaborators.[4]

4. Whereas Russia has harshly suppressed dissent, there has been no criminal or civil prosecutions of Western companies and individuals helping Russia to evade sanctions.

5. The Biden Administration has refused to designate Russia as a terrorist state (which would tighten sanctions and raise penalties)[5] despite a unanimous Senate resolution calling on the administration to do so.[6]

6. EU sanctions, which have to be renewed every six months,[7] are not commensurate with Russian atrocities and war crimes.[7]

7. The US, EU and NATO have not set any red lines for Russia despite genocide, atrocities, and flagrant violations of international law. Only “strong condemnation” for which Russia has no more concern than the Taliban.

8. By keeping all military options off the table,[8] the West greenlighted Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and war crimes.

9. NATO has strung Ukraine along since 2008 with false representations that "Ukraine and Georgia...will becomes members of NATO"[9] always postponed indefinitely.

10. Delays and denials in the supply of necessary Western armaments prevented anticipated Ukrainian counter-offensives over the winter of 2022-2023 and returned initiative to Russia.[10]

11. Western leaders have demonstrated false scruples about supplying Ukraine defensive arms,[11] fighter jets,[12] StarLink internet for territorial defense,[13] etc. No such scruples and hesitancy were expressed about at least $96.05 billion in direct investments in Russia by U.S. companies,[14] nor about direct payments from the US government for Russian rocketry[15] and technical collaboration on dual-used technologies used in Russian missiles, drones, and other military applications.

12. The West has failed to build adequate missile defenses[16] and defense industry,[17] falsely proclaiming from the mid-1990s to the present that the US is the world's “only superpower”[18] and wrongly deeming the era of conventional war to be over.[19]. It was claimed in 2004 that "the post-Cold War era has witnessed an amazing 'downshifting' of the source of threats to global stability"and that "transnational or non-state actors will constitute the main source of violence,"[20] yet the subsequent years have seen the largest conventional military battles since World War II and consecutive declines in freedom in the world every year since that time.[21]

13. Both US Republicans and Democrats have demonstrated that their priorities are elsewhere.  Before the 2022 midterms, Biden dubiously allocated more than five times the total Ukraine aid to date to student loan forgiveness which was essentially a vote-buying scheme.[22] Some Republicans have introduced legislation to stop Ukraine aid altogether.[23]

14. The West has a shorter attention span than its authoritarian adversaries. Democratic movements in Tunisia, Syria, Iran, Belarus, and Hong Kong have been suppressed with barely a shrug.

15. Already, growing voices in the West express a desire to normalize relations with Russia despite war crimes and grave breaches of international law.

16. The weakness of Ukraine’s Western partners enabled Russian aggression and will prevent Ukraine from restoring its territorial integrity despite shallow rhetoric.

17. The misappraisal of Russia is only one of many collective Western delusions. The West continues to sleepwalk into disaster and has not been adequately awoken by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

18. The world continues to become less free and more dangerous and uncertain. Appeasement has not resulted in “peace in our time.”


[1] Rankin, Jennifer. "€1bn for Ukraine, €35bn for Russian energy: top EU diplomat calls out funding gap." The Guardian (UK), April 6, 2022.

[2] "Financing Putin’s war: Fossil fuel imports from Russia during the invasion of Ukraine." Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air. (accessed March 3, 2023).

[3] Savytskyi, Oleg. "Five reasons why the US and the EU should impose a full embargo on Russian fossil fuels." Euromaidan Press, February 25, 2023.

[4] "31 ways Russia evaded sanctions, boosting its war machine."  Euromaidan Press, June 9, 2022.

[5] Powell, Anita. "Biden Says No to Appeals to Designate Russia a State Sponsor of Terror." Voice of America News, September 6, 2022.

[6] "Senate Resolution 623 - A resolution calling on the Secretary of State to designate the Russian Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism." United States Senate, August 27, 2022.

[7] "Timeline - EU restrictive measures against Russia over Ukraine." Council of the European Union. (accessed March 3, 2023).

[8] Midttun, Hans Peter. "For the sake of European stability, NATO needs to intervene in Ukraine." Euromaidan Press, December 17, 2022.

[9] "NATO decisions on open-door policy." North Atlantic Treaty Organization News, April 3, 2008.

[10] Hird, Karolina, Grace Mappes, Angela Howard, George Barros, and Frederick W. Kagan. "Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, January 21, 2023." Institute for Study of War, January 21, 2023.

[11] Shishkin, Philip and Jeffrey Sparshott. "Ukraine to Get More U.S. Aid, but Not Weapons; Obama Refuses to Budge on Lethal Aid Despite Poroshenko's Passionate Plea in Congress."  Wall Street Journal, September 18, 2014.

[12] Farberov, Snejana. "Biden shuts down sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine: ‘No’". New York Post, January 31, 2023.

[13] Roulette, Joey. "SpaceX curbed Ukraine's use of Starlink internet for drones -company president." Reuters, February 9, 2023.

[14] "US Businesses Have Invested Nearly US$100 Billion In Russia." Russia Briefing, September 27, 2021.

[15] "US pays Russia $3.9 billion for ferrying astronauts to ISS." TASS Russian News Agency, November 15, 2019.

[16] Roff, Peter. "Obama's Strategic Defense Failure." US News, July 30, 2014.

[17] Scazzieri, Luigi. "Is European Defence Missing Its Moment?" Centre for European Reform, January 16, 2023.
[18] McNeil, Taylor. "Why the United States Is the Only Superpower." Tufts Now, November 21, 2019.

[19] Matisek, Jahara and Ian Bertram. "The Death of American Conventional Warfare: It’s the Political Willpower, Stupid." Strategy Bridge, November 5, 2017.
[20] McDevitt, Michael A, W. Eugene Cobble, H.H. Gaffney and Ken E. Guase. "The Changing Nature of Warfare: Transcript and Summery of a Conference, 25-26 May 2004." CNA Corporation.

[21] Repucci, Sarah, and Amy Slipowitz. "Freedom in the World 2021: Democracy Under Siege." Freedom House, 2021.

[22] McCaughey, Betsy. "Student-loan forgiveness is Biden’s ‘Hail Mary’ pass to buy votes." New York Post, August 25, 2022.

[23] Kika, Thomas. "Ex-General Blasts Matt Gaetz Over Ukraine Fatigue Bill: 'Disgusted.'" Newsweek, February 20, 2023.

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