There is nothing reasonable about Vladimir Putin’s demands - opinion

If Putin wants to collapse his nation’s finances, so be it.

 PRO-RUSSIAN armored convoy travels outside the separatist-controlled town of Volnovakha in Ukraine’s Donetsk region on Saturday. (photo credit: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)
PRO-RUSSIAN armored convoy travels outside the separatist-controlled town of Volnovakha in Ukraine’s Donetsk region on Saturday.
(photo credit: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

After about two weeks of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has outlined demands to cease the assault. Putin has called for Ukraine to agree to: terminating military action, changing the constitution to enshrine neutrality, recognizing Crimea as Russian territory, and listing the Russian-separatist controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states. 

These demands are nearly identical to what Putin wanted before invading, making them hardly worth considering. With this in mind, it has been deeply troubling to see people suggest these demands are reasonable or fair. 

Russia deserves nothing in this situation beyond global condemnation. Putin decided to carry out the most significant violation of a state’s sovereignty since World War II, and the punishments should be on par. To see him make requests as thousands of his men die in the name of slaughtering their neighbor would be absurd if not for its severity. 

Russia has no right to dictate the foreign policy of another independent nation. If Ukraine wants to join the EU or NATO, that is their agenda. To suggest that Russia violates all global norms and still gets what they want would be a slap in the face of all law-abiding nations. Russia also has no right to seize Crimea or unilaterally declare the independence of a country’s regions. 

One of the demands gives insight into Putin’s little understanding of democracy. Ukraine cannot agree to pass a constitutional amendment; that is not how constitution writing works in nations where more than one individual holds the reins. So Putin is either exposing himself as the authoritarian he is, or wants any form of “deal” to fail. 

 Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council via a video link at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia March 11, 2022. (credit: SPUTNIK/MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/KREMLIN VIA REUTERS) Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council via a video link at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia March 11, 2022. (credit: SPUTNIK/MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/KREMLIN VIA REUTERS)

The idea that Ukraine ceases military operations is egregious, and it pretends Ukraine is on equal standing with the military aggression of Russia. It is not surprising that Russia wants Ukraine to lay down its arms voluntarily; it has taken two weeks for what they thought would be a weekend excursion. We are witnessing a David and Goliath story; Putin knows he is getting killed on the world stage and in his wallet.

 HERE IS what should happen; the international community should continue pushing sanctions and expanding them to cover Russia’s energy sector. Russia’s economy is propped up by its oil and gas industry; to exclude them from sanctions only prolongs the war.

Russia should be cut off from the global economy until it withdraws from Ukraine and its stolen territories. If Putin wants to collapse his nation’s finances, so be it. Putin desperately wants to return to the days of the USSR, but he should only be granted the climate of its destruction. 

There will be some pain that vibrates across the world for sanctioning Russia. Negotiations should be opened with OPEC, and the US should allow for projections such as the Keystone XL pipeline to continue. 

Turning to terror states, such as Iran or Venezuela, is dealing with a different devil. All nations that rely on Russia for energy need to find alternatives immediately.

When we look back on this moment, it should be remembered as the time we all collectively threw Putin into the ash heap of history. Putin’s regime should be categorized as a villainous power that preyed on its neighbors. For decades, we have asked ourselves what we would do in a moment like this? Here is your chance to answer. 

Putin managed to get forces, such as Germany and Switzerland, to take steps far beyond anyone’s imagination. He expected the world to watch in horror, not to react; he overplayed his hand. 

We need to seize this moment and clarify that such actions have no place in the modern world. If any parties meet at a bargaining table, Russia, not Ukraine, should be offering concessions. There is nothing reasonable about Putin’s demands.

The writer is pursuing a master’s degree in public policy (environmental policy) at Arizona State University.