6 Things the White House Can Do Immediately Regarding the Russia–Ukraine Conflict

Despite issuing carefully worded statements—leaving a lot of room for interpretation—the White House has largely avoided mentioning specific consequences for Russia’s recent aggressions.

Perhaps the White House will consider taking a look at our recent Heritage Foundation Issue Brief that includes a number of specific policy recommendations that, among other things, would resolve transatlantic relations and NATO’s security guarantee for existing NATO members.

Among our experts’ recommendations:

1. Show U.S. commitment to NATO.

2. Enact sanctions on Russia.

3. Enforce the Magnitsky Act.

4. Work with European partners.

5. Improve and deepen relations with Eastern Europe beyond defense.

6. Withdraw immediately from New START.

>>> Learn more about these recommendations

Many of these recommendations were mentioned during a recent panel that brought together foreign policy experts including Michael E. O’Hanlon from the Brookings Institution, Christopher J. Griffin from the Foreign Policy Initiative, and Heritage’s James Jay Carafano and Kim Holmes. According to Griffin, Russia’s aggression in the Crimean Peninsula is but a part of a troubling trend occurring as a result of an absence of American leadership. The central question in fact is whether the Obama Administration will continue muddling through this crisis or will seize this moment to articulate a broader vision of U.S. foreign policy.

On this, the White House has hardly sounded convincing in recent days. And for much of the unrest and violence in Kyiv, the President was preoccupied with other affairs.

We can’t forget President Obama’s open-mic comment when he whispered in Vladimir Putin’s ear during the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in the Spring of 2012 that “This is my last election….After my election I have more flexibility.” Music to Putin’s ears.

A U-Turn is desperately needed in the U.S.–Russian relationship to send a strong signal not only to Putin, but also to Beijing, Tehran, Damascus, and Caracas that America’s role in the world still matters. Naked Russian aggression warrants swift and immediate action. The world is looking to America for leadership.


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