An Anticipatory Perspective on the Malaysian Airline Crisis
By R. Johnson Lykes The realities of last week’s downed Malaysian Airline Flight 17, specifically the horrific death toll the catastrophe caused, are beginning to sink in. Russia’s tenuous consolations have not prevented the U.S. from placing extensive economic sanctions on powerful Russian banks and energy companies. At this point, imposing fiscal restrictions is the only effective method of altering its social behavior. An increase in international pressure would hopefully cause Russia’s government to bear adverse financial repercussions, thereby influencing the country to temper recent military aggression. But Europe has largely balked on taking a strong stance in penalizing the Russians. The EU is currently squandering a rare opportunity to put pressure on Putin, as it has shied away from applying economic restrictions that would effectively hinder the president and his country. As it stands, European countries are opting to maintain positive relations with Russia solely for trade purposes. Frankly, lack of action will send a message to Putin’s regime that it can continue on its path of perilous and remorseless expansionism, giving way to a global infrastructure wherein the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians can go unchecked.
Strong international backlash would certainly influence whether or not the Russian president will follow through with promises he made on Wednesday, where he asserted he would do everything in his power to prevent further violence between Russia and Ukraine. Putin has the opportunity to salvage some positivity if he exerts his authority and permanently cuts off military supplies to the Russian-backed separatists. Recently, Putin was quoted saying, “We of course will do everything in our power [to end the fighting], but that is not nearly enough.” The world knows how fraudulent these claims are. Fierce economic restrictions would compel the president to exercise the power that everyone knows he has. Simply put, Putin has a chance to end the separatist-led rebellion occurring in the Ukraine as soon as he wants. Right now, the conflict appears to have reached a fever pitch, as gunfire has increased between the sides, and two Ukraine fighter jets were reportedly shot down near the Russian border on Wednesday. Further evidence that Putin’s insatiable appetite for expansion will only continue if allowed.
As more time passes it’s looking like Russia will come away from this without having faced adequate repercussions. While the United States, Great Britain and Australia have vigorously called for European nations to take a tougher stance in punishing Russia, the opposite has taken place as the EU has yet to produce any recourse of consequence. Citing European nations’ dependence on Russian natural resources (most notably, natural gas and oil), New York Times reporter Thomas Erdbrink writes, “European nations have shied away from measures that would further isolate Russia… Europe’s leaders have largely decided that they will have to live with a newly assertive Russia.” Right now the complex arena of international politics finds itself in a metaphorical stalemate, as economies clash with humanity.