30 September 2022,   04:46
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Impose proportionate sanctions for Moscow’s ongoing, under-the-radar aggression in Georgia – report of Atlantic Council

Atlantic Council Report on Russia “Global Strategy 2022: Thwarting Kremlin aggression today for constructive relations tomorrow”. In addition to Ukraine, the report focuses on Georgia and its security.

“The list of Kremlin provocations is long and includes military action notably in Georgia and Ukraine and changing borders by force, relentless and ongoing cyberattacks, electoral interference in the United States and numerous other democratic countries, assassinations abroad, disinformation campaigns, coup attempts, and efforts to buck up dictators. There is also evidence that Moscow is likely behind some of the directed energy attacks on US officials that produce the Havana Syndrome. Russian President Vladimir Putin presides over these active measures and malign activities in his quest to destabilize the international order that the Kremlin calculates works against its interests.

All of this is a sign of fear of and opposition to democracy, especially in Russia’s neighborhood. While the Biden administration evaluates the Chinese threat to US interests as its top priority, the Russian threat to the rules-based order, in the short term at least, has been more aggressive and persistent.1 The United States does not have the luxury of focusing only on China.

The strategy outlines the following overarching short, medium, and long-term goals.

Short term: Thwart and deter the Kremlin’s revisionist foreign policy, which seeks to weaken NATO, the EU, and their respective principal states, especially the United States, and to restore Russian hegemony in Eurasia. Push back against Kremlin repression at home.
Short and medium term: Seek areas of cooperation where US and Russian interests may overlap: arms control, counterterrorism in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, reduced military confrontations, and an effective response to climate change. It also includes dialogue with Russian elites on possible future cooperation and outreach to the Russian people.
Longer term: Describe in clear terms the cooperative relationship that would emerge with a prosperous, powerful Russia that plays a constructive role in the rules-based international order. While this is a long-term objective, it should immediately be enshrined in US policy.

The strategy consists of four major elements.

1) Work with allies and partners to counter immediate danger from Moscow: The first element of the strategy is to ensure that US allies and partners understand the danger coming from Moscow and work together to counter it. The United States should:

Maintain and strengthen NATO’s defense and deterrence posture, both conventional and nuclear.
Enhance the already significant forward presence on NATO’s northeastern flank.
Establish a comprehensive Black Sea strategy. To do this the United States should:
Work with NATO to establish a stronger and more regular NATO naval presence in the Black Sea.
Enhance cooperation with and defense support for NATO partners Georgia and Ukraine in the Black Sea.
Establish mutual understanding with the EU on the danger from Moscow and how to meet it.
Build on the first Summit for Democracy to highlight Moscow’s aggressive policies in Ukraine and Georgia and show staunch support for the democratic movements in Belarus and Venezuela.

2) Establish clear redlines on Moscow’s behavior: The second element of the strategy is to thwart Kremlin aggression and provocations against US interests and the international liberal order. The United States must establish clear redlines as a deterrent and be prepared to act swiftly when Moscow threatens or crosses them. Ukraine is the current center of Moscow’s revisionist foreign policy and needs the self-defense capabilities to deter further aggression. Frustrating Kremlin aggression in Ukraine reduces the risk of Kremlin provocations against the United States’ Eastern European NATO allies and may well prove the key to persuading it to change policy course. The US policy response should involve military, economic, and diplomatic tools, specifically to:

Encourage Ukraine’s military to become completely interoperable with NATO.
Increase US military aid to Ukraine to $1 billion per year and encourage additional assistance from other NATO members. Make Ukraine’s defense a NATO objective.
Provide Ukraine with anti-ship missiles, naval drones, and air defense systems.
Maintain and strengthen the current sanctions regime. Impose new sanctions promptly the next time that Moscow either escalates its military operation in Ukraine or commits a major new provocation there. In concert with the EU, impose progressively tighter sanctions as Moscow continues its current operation in the Donbas. The sanctions for new escalation should be stronger than those for ongoing aggression.
Impose proportionate sanctions for Moscow’s ongoing, under-the-radar aggression in Georgia, and consider sanctions on Moscow for its efforts to extort geopolitical concessions from Moldova for gas supplies.
Focus on the most effective sanctions, financial sanctions and personal sanctions, on Kremlin oligarchs.
Maintain public attention on Moscow’s occupation of Crimea, the Donbas, and Georgia.
Take a more active role in the Minsk peace process and consult with the parties to ensure that Ukraine is not pressured to make undue concessions to Moscow. Prepare to enter negotiations fully when Moscow is ready to negotiate its withdrawal from the Donbas.

Equally important, the United States should respond forcefully to Kremlin provocations against itself, as well as its allies and partners globally:

Respond to Kremlin election interference, cyber operations, and assassinations abroad promptly with public diplomacy, sanctions, and, in the case of cyberattacks, counter operations.
Support the democratic movements in Belarus and Venezuela.
Provide strong support to the current reformist Moldovan government so that its reforms can succeed in spite of a Russian gas embargo.

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