Contrary to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claims, Ukraine posed no threat to Russia.
Thus, Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine was not only dishonorable it was criminal.
While Russia and Ukraine have agreed to talks, there is no chance of success because no trust exists on either side. The Ukrainian demands of an immediate ceasefire and a full Russian withdrawal are not realistic.
In their defense, the Ukrainians have no reason to trust Putin because his regime has a long history of reneging on past commitments. For example, when Russia took Crimea, it violated the United Nations Charter, the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, and the 1997 Treaty of Friendship between Russia and Ukraine.
Having said that, Putin would not be president of Russia if he did not have the capacity to honor a deal. In 1999, President Yeltsin resigned in exchange for a pardon from Putin.
Putin kept his promise that Yeltsin and his family would be left alone.
In 1999, the Prosecutor General of Russia, Yuri Skuratov, was investigating a Swiss company accused of bribing President Boris Yeltsin and his family members.
The Yeltsin family knew that Skuratov was a loyal ally of Yeltsin’s chief rival Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov. They believed they had to destroy Skuratov to end the investigation.
Yeltsin’s staff showed Skuratov a kompromat video of him having sex with two prostitutes. Skuratov claimed that it was only someone who looked like him.
To be clear, no one really knows the truth to this day.
Skuratov offered his resignation out of fear.
The Duma, which was filled with President Yeltsin’s rivals, rejected his resignation.
Yeltsin’s inner circle released the sex tape to the public.
In April 1999, Putin was the head of the FSB. Along with the Russia’s Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin, Putin hosted a press conference and shamelessly told the public that the Skuratov tape was genuine.
Putin’s performance helped Yeltsin tremendously and led to Skuratov’s downfall.
Putin was appointed prime minister a few months later.
According to Catherine Belton’s book "Putin’s People," Yeltsin’s Chief of Staff, and son-in-law, Valentin Yumashev was an early supporter of Putin. He was impressed by how Putin protected his former boss Anatoly Sobchak from prosecution.
When Yeltsin resigned, Putin honored the deal and gave Yeltsin a quiet and comfortable retirement. For the sake of Russia’s economic future, the Russian elite needs to offer Putin a similar deal.
In past, when Putin engaged in sophistry, or subterfuge, he seemed like a rational KGB thug. It is no secret that some of Putin’s oldest friends (Gennady Timchenko, Arkady Rotenberg, and Boris Rotenberg) have become billionaires after he became president.
A corrupt, and rational, Putin is a manageable problem. An unhinged Putin, who puts nuclear forces on high alert, and invades Ukraine, without provocation is an existential threat to the United States.
This writer believes the current war was caused by the hubris that only comes from two decades in power. President Putin is no longer a rational actor.
On Monday, the sanctions have wreaked havoc on the stock market, Russia’s currency is collapsing and the banks were forced to increase interest rates to 20%.
As bad as the economy is in Russia, things could be much worse.
If President Biden used the Reagan playbook against the Soviets, he would also try to bring down oil prices to hurt Russia’s economy further. This could help bring down inflation at home and force Putin to sue for peace.
According to a friend, Ed Meese, who was President Reagan’s attorney general, "Biden should reverse the blocking of the Keystone XL pipeline, and take measures to restore the energy independence that was achieved during the past administration."
Putin may occupy parts of Ukraine, but these sanctions will eventually ruin the Russian economy. The United States, and our European allies, should give President Putin a choice.
If Putin resigns from office, and permanently retires, the West should lift all sanctions it has imposed on Russia since 2014.
Obviously, the Russians will never give up Crimea and Donbas, but the Russian people, including Putin’s inner circle, might be willing to give up on Putin and most of Ukraine’s territory.
When President Boris Yeltsin left office in 1999, he briefly spoke to Vladimir Putin just before he got into his limousine. His final request to Putin was, "Take care of Russia."
Russia is becoming an international pariah. It's not in America’s interests for Russia to become a giant North Korea.
If Putin resigns, he could spare the Russian people the pain of these sanctions.
In the past, sanctions have hurt the Russian people. They did not hurt Putin’s lifestyle.
President Putin started this war and only Putin should be punished for this crime.
Robert Zapesochny is a researcher and writer whose work focuses on foreign affairs, national security and presidential history. He has been published in numerous outlets, including The American Spectator, the Washington Times, and The American Conservative. When he's not writing, Robert works for a medical research company in New York. Read Robert Zapesochny's Reports — More Here.
© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.