Suddenly, the war in Ukraine seems to be moving in the right direction. As the BBC reported earlier this month that “Ukraine says it has retaken more than 6,000 sq km (2,317 sq miles) from Russian control in September.” The report indicates that “in the Kharkiv region, the towns of Izyum and Kupiansk, both key hubs for the supply of Russian forces in Donbas, were taken by Ukraine on Saturday” and “a Ukrainian counterattack in Kherson in the south continues.” Russia still controls about one-fifth of the landmass of Ukraine, but Russian are in retreat. A good sign that the war may be winding down.
A key reason for the success is that the Ukrainians are fighting in their own country. The last thing Americans want is to be fighting a war in yet another faraway land. Because it is easier to fight to keep what is yours rather than to try to take something away from somebody else, it makes great sense that Ukrainians are the ones fighting. Weapons provided by NATO are also crucial and effective. Compare that to inferior Russian weapon systems that keep failing. Ukrainian warriors had a clear advantage in this fight.
But let’s also give credit to the international sanctions regime that has helped. Since February the democratic West, led by the United States and the European Union, has maintained strict sanctions, crippling the Russian economy. That has been the goal since the start. “Sanctions include targeted restrictive measures (individual sanctions), economic sanctions, and diplomatic measures,” the EU explains. “The aim of the economic sanctions is to impose severe consequences on Russia for its actions and to effectively thwart Russian abilities to continue the aggression.” Sanctions are working.
The combination of providing the Ukrainians the firepower and humanitarian aid to weather the onslaught, in addition to the sanctions, has provided a winning combination that has both helped militarily and hampered Russian efforts to use their economy to replenish military supplies. This is no time to lighten up on sanctions or aid. In fact, the current regime of sanctions doesn’t go far enough and can be tightened.
For example, a loophole in the sanctions is allowing European plane maker Airbus to keep using Russian titanium. Before the invasion, Airbus sourced about half of its titanium from Russia, and it is still using the rare metal. That is by design.
For some reason, the European aerospace giant has resisted sanctions openly. Maybe they think they are too big to comply. “Sanctions on Russian titanium would hardly harm Russia, because they only account for a small part of export revenues there. But they would massively damage the entire aerospace industry across Europe,” a company spokesman said in the spring. The company has made a weak case that they need a carveout for titanium, because sanctions are not working as intended.
The company should be following the policy of the European Union, instead of setting its policy with regard to this metal. Let’s remember that Airbus is a company that relies on handouts from EU governments. “Without the subsidies, Airbus would not have existed,” a World Trade Organization investigation once found. It noted that without subsidies, “there would be no Airbus aircraft on the market.” Yet now Airbus is flouting EU sanctions so it can keep making money. And it is, indeed, making money off the Ukrainian suffering.
As Fortune magazine reported after an in-depth investigation: “European aviation giants are unscrupulously leveraging divergences between the U.S. and EU’s enforcement of titanium accreditation to squeeze major U.S. aviation companies.” That is especially disappointing because the war in Ukraine is actually presenting companies with an opportunity to do well by doing good. The West is putting its money on the line. Countries like Germany are at risk of a long, cold winter without Russian gas. Civilians everywhere are paying three times what they were last year for fuel without Russian oil. Food prices may be higher than ever over the next year. But helping stop Russian aggression is worth the sacrifices.
Now it is time for Airbus to make sacrifices as well. The rest of the world is getting by without Russian titanium. Airbus should immediately stop using the metal as well, and help increase the pressure on Russia.
Greg Young is host of the nationally syndicated Chosen Generation Radio Show which airs Monday through Friday on stations coast to coast. He served as a Russian Linguist at the USAF, discover more at chosengenerationradio.com.