Opinion: The West Should Sanction Oligarchs Before The Russian People

The clock is ticking for Ukraine, and the clock is a literal timebomb.

There has never been a more detrimental time in recent history than now. Ukraine has been at war with propped up separatist militias in the east of Ukraine for almost 8 years, and in that time, political attacks and propaganda aimed at Kyiv’s people and government have increasingly escalated. First, the east was taken, then Crimea. Now, the entire nation is at risk of falling victim to an all-out conflict with Russia’s Kremlin.

Response to Russia’s amassment of 150,000 troops on the border with Ukraine has largely been spit in the wind. Western government agencies put out counterintelligence and the threat of sanctions to thwart Russia’s advancement towards Kyiv, only mildly delaying the inevitable. But something more destructive lies within the mind of Russian diplomats, their families and friends lying dormant within the secretions of our own backyard.

Russian politicians, oligarchs and allies to the Kremlin own incredible portfolios of assets within the EU. From Yachts, property and real estate, the Kremlin’s financial interests are largely dotted around what they describe as decays of society they wish to make “disappear”.

What we should do first is simple – unveil sanctions in stages, showcasing what financial risks are posed to diplomats should a full-scale invasion occur. Access to the EU should be blocked for all Kremlin employees, diplomats and associated figures including family. Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov owns property in London, President Putin acquired several affluent assets for his portfolio and chief propagandist Vladimir Solovyov holds property himself in Lake Cuomo, Italy as well as others including Russian oligarch Mikhail Gutseriev, whose close ties to Belarus’ President Lukashenko, warrant investigation. This is the tip of the iceberg for a circulatory problem within the European Union. So, if the West is serious regarding its protection of Ukraine, they must first start with the individuals asserting threats towards Kyiv, who warn they will decimate its people and government, not to mention several other nations who are openly discussed and debated in Russia’s parliament.

Russia’s people are not at fault for their government’s actions and should not be indiscriminately singled out with sanctions, especially having lived through a faltering economy for a number of years. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky stated “what is the point of sanctions after?” asking for them to Be put in place “now”. After all, the wealth of Russia, which could be distributed among its citizens, is kept locked within a vault of siphoned gas and oil giants for the elite.

Photography: World Economic Forum

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