Did Nikita Nail It?

Richard N. Weltz
Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev once infamously threatened that, "Communism will dance on the grave of the capitalist and we will sell you the rope you use to hang yourself." Could his prediction be coming true?

As Vladimir Putin’s aggressive efforts to recreate much of Russia’s former power and influence, Western businesses seem only too happy to sell him the material, equipment, and services he needs to recapture some of Russia’s old imperial glory.

We read on the front page of today’s Wall Street Journal that:

Angela Merkel is carrying a clear message from Germany's business lobby to the White House: No more sanctions.

Several of the biggest names in German business -- including chemical giant BASF, engineering group Siemens AG, Volkswagen AG, Adidas and Deutsche Bank AG -- have made their opposition to broader economic sanctions against Russia clear in recent weeks, both in public and in private.

As a result, Germany's position on additional, tougher sanctions is unlikely to shift, barring a dramatic escalation of the conflict in Ukraine -- a message Ms. Merkel is expected to deliver to President Barack Obama when they meet in Washington on Friday, officials in Berlin say.

And the New York Times informs us that:

While some small Russian banks will have to stop taking Visa or MasterCard, the sanctions have not stopped major transactions or projects by those targeted. It is not clear whether the targets even have assets in the United States to freeze.

Beyond the targets themselves, large companies like Exxon Mobil, Boeing, Royal Dutch Shell, Siemens and BP have done nothing to curtail operations in Russia. The chief executives of Shell and Siemens even met separately with Mr. Putin in recent weeks, making clear business will continue, although Shell has since added that it will hold off starting new projects for now.

Meanwhile, the United States and its Western allies haven’t lifted any effective finger to stop Putin from grabbing a piece of Georgia, annexing Crimea, and poising his troops and agitators to take back the eastern part of Ukraine. 

All the West has done is wag its collective finger, impose a few relatively harmless economic sanctions on a few Putin cronies and send a mighty crew of some 600 soldiers over to the Poland-Baltic region. The Russian Bear is once more on the prowl against the U.S. and Western Europe, and, by golly, the best we can do is to help him!

One can almost hear Khrushchev laughing from whatever section of Hell he’s been assigned to.

Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev once infamously threatened that, "Communism will dance on the grave of the capitalist and we will sell you the rope you use to hang yourself." Could his prediction be coming true?

As Vladimir Putin’s aggressive efforts to recreate much of Russia’s former power and influence, Western businesses seem only too happy to sell him the material, equipment, and services he needs to recapture some of Russia’s old imperial glory.

We read on the front page of today’s Wall Street Journal that:

Angela Merkel is carrying a clear message from Germany's business lobby to the White House: No more sanctions.

Several of the biggest names in German business -- including chemical giant BASF, engineering group Siemens AG, Volkswagen AG, Adidas and Deutsche Bank AG -- have made their opposition to broader economic sanctions against Russia clear in recent weeks, both in public and in private.

As a result, Germany's position on additional, tougher sanctions is unlikely to shift, barring a dramatic escalation of the conflict in Ukraine -- a message Ms. Merkel is expected to deliver to President Barack Obama when they meet in Washington on Friday, officials in Berlin say.

And the New York Times informs us that:

While some small Russian banks will have to stop taking Visa or MasterCard, the sanctions have not stopped major transactions or projects by those targeted. It is not clear whether the targets even have assets in the United States to freeze.

Beyond the targets themselves, large companies like Exxon Mobil, Boeing, Royal Dutch Shell, Siemens and BP have done nothing to curtail operations in Russia. The chief executives of Shell and Siemens even met separately with Mr. Putin in recent weeks, making clear business will continue, although Shell has since added that it will hold off starting new projects for now.

Meanwhile, the United States and its Western allies haven’t lifted any effective finger to stop Putin from grabbing a piece of Georgia, annexing Crimea, and poising his troops and agitators to take back the eastern part of Ukraine. 

All the West has done is wag its collective finger, impose a few relatively harmless economic sanctions on a few Putin cronies and send a mighty crew of some 600 soldiers over to the Poland-Baltic region. The Russian Bear is once more on the prowl against the U.S. and Western Europe, and, by golly, the best we can do is to help him!

One can almost hear Khrushchev laughing from whatever section of Hell he’s been assigned to.