In the article “Crimea after two years: time to drop sanctions” in the May 10 edition, columnist Doug Bandow effectively calls for a lifting of the sanctions against Russia and making a deal with Moscow in a “business as usual” manner despite continuing Russian aggression against Ukraine.

As readers of The Japan Times may know, in March 2014, Russia forcefully occupied the Crimean Peninsula of Ukraine. The fact of the special military operation in the Crimea was publicly recognized later on by the Russian president himself, although he denied it previously. Later in spring 2014 Russia attempted to follow the Crimean military adventure in the mainland Ukrainian region of Donbas, but was stopped by Ukrainian armed forces and volunteers.

Today the situation in Donbas is extremely tense. Almost 10,000 people perished, over 2,700 of them Ukrainian servicemen, killed by fire from combined Russian-terrorist forces. Armed provocations by the Russian militants again have an upward tendency with a clear goal — undermine the process of de-escalation. An army about 40,000 strong, including over 7,000 Russian regular troops, continues to be stationed in Donbas with unfettered rotation, training and supply. This force is commanded and coordinated by Russian generals and military officers.

Sanctions have been imposed on Russia in response to its aggression against Ukraine. For today, multifaceted sanctions seem to be one of the effective instruments against sustained Russian aggression. International pressure on Russia, including sanctions, must remain in effect until Russia and its proxies fully implement the Minsk agreement and Russia pulls away from Crimea and Donbas by removing its troops, weapons and restoring Ukraine’s control over its borders.

The lifting of sanctions will not solve the problem. On the contrary, it will create a dangerous precedent of impunity and permissiveness that certainly will be used by Moscow’s regime. It will also annul the chances of resolving the situation in Donbas by political means and can cause unpredictable consequences.

It is important that during the Group of Seven summit in Japan in May, the leaders of Japan, the United States, Germany, France, Canada, Italy, Great Britain and the European Union reiterated their policy on sanctions against Russia.

Reframing Bandow’s words, I would like to say: “Even after two years, it’s not a time to make a deal with Moscow and move on. …”

Ihor Kharchenko

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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