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How to Do More for Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin's failure to achieve a rapid victory in Ukraine has left Ukrainians with an unwavering confidence in their own ability to win the war – eventually. But much will depend on Western governments' own willingness to use all of the economic-policy tools at their disposal.

On May 6, 2022, economist Michael R. Strain of the American Enterprise Institute spoke with Oleg Ustenko, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief economic adviser, to discuss the international response to Russia’s war and the situation on the ground. Speaking from an undisclosed location in Ukraine, Ustenko makes clear that the United States and Europe could do more to end the war, to aid in Ukraine’s reconstruction, and to ensure that Russia cannot repeat its aggression in the future.

Michael R. Strain: The European Commission recently issued a proposal to phase out imports of Russian crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of 2022. That would need to be approved by all EU member states. What’s your reaction to the proposal as it stands?

Oleg Ustenko: The Russians are using energy revenues to finance their military machine, so we welcome this step very much. But it’s not enough. Russia is receiving $1 billion per day for its energy exports. You can imagine how many missiles, weapons, and bombs they can buy in the six months before the embargo is fully implemented.

Our position is straightforward. We want this embargo to go into effect at once. We don’t have an extra six months to wait while Russia continues to kill our citizens. Under the circumstances, we believe that Europe must act immediately.