Exclusive–Rand Paul: Putin Endangering Russia's Oil Supply by Flexing Muscles in Ukraine

Russia's Putin has invaded his neighbor’s sovereign territory. He must and will face serious repercussions for doing so, and the international community must make the price severe.

Unless we are willing to go to war for Ukraine—and I believe that would be unwise—Russia without question has the military might and geographic advantage to control the Crimea and the Russian dominated areas of Ukraine. 

But at what cost? Russia's stock market is dropping precipitously and their economy is quite dependent on exports that depend on a stable Ukraine.

Likely, the cost will be universal condemnation from Europe and America and isolation from trade and the benefits of behaving and participating in the civilized world.

Does Putin care? Perhaps not. Maybe flexing muscle may impress maidens in Sochi but perhaps not the 14-year old men of the Maidan. A Ukrainian teenager with $200 of explosives and a burning desire to thwart the Russian bear can disrupt a pipeline. 80 percent of Russia's oil and gas traverses Ukraine.

Before Putin commits further aggression in Ukraine, he should take the time to peer into the eyes of Ukrainian teenagers with bandaged and bloodied heads and ask himself if he is really up to the task.

The Soviets (I mean Russians) may roll into Ukraine without firing a shot, for now. Surely, though, some among the renewed nationalists of Moscow must remember the Mujahedin?

It will not be American or European might that deters or defeats the Russian bear. It will be a 14-year old Ukrainian with their flag as a bandana wrapped to cover the scars of the police truncheon.

Also, awaken the sleeping giant in America at your own peril. Unleashed, America might just produce enough oil and gas to supply all of Europe.

If President Obama weren't so beholden to environmental extremists, he might immediately announce support for legalization of oil and gas exploration and export. The Keystone pipeline might escape Obama's arbitrary and capricious clutches. Western powers might decide that the Russian bear can wait in line for finances. Perhaps loans for oil and gas exploration in the free world might trump Russian pleas for finance.

The international banking system effectively squeezed Iran. Does Putin really desire the opprobrium of the civilized world? Is salvaging some nostalgic conception of Soviet hegemony worth the ostricization and calumny of becoming the new Iran?

I am one who values Reagan's words to potential adversaries: "Don't mistake our reluctance for war for a lack of resolve."

I am one who hates war and sees the endless possibility of trade. I am also one who views with horror the barren landscape that accompanies war. I see the stumps of trees shorn of limbs and leaves on an empty plain between the trenches of WWI or blank faces peering from apartment buildings blown apart in the Syrian chaos.

A Russian onslaught will make a Syria of Ukraine. Is that really what you want, Mr. Putin? Oil and gas are your lifeline. Are you willing to cut off your nose to spite your face?

As long as twenty Ukrainian teenagers live that hate and resent Russian overlords, your pipelines will not be safe. Violence begets violence. You will never subdue Ukraine.

It may not happen now. It may take a decade or more, but one day you or some cheap imitation will look dead into the eyes of a Ukrainian teenager with a flag for a bandana and understand why no nation, no people will ever submit to subjugation.


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