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Putin’s Defeat in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Photo: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov

JNS.orgLast Friday, President Biden announced new sanctions targeting 500 Russian officials and companies.

His aim was to deliver the “devastating” consequences that, three years ago, he vowed Russia’s ruler, Vladimir Putin, would face if Russia’s most prominent opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, were to die in a Siberian penal colony—as he did, on Feb. 16 at the age of 47.

“Make no mistake, Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death,” Biden said. “Putin is responsible.”

The sanctions also are intended to hobble Russia’s economy as Putin’s war to conquer Ukraine enters its third year.

To call these 500 sanctions a slap on the wrist would be unfair. To call these sanctions 500 slaps on the wrist would not be unfair. And Muhammad Ali never won a fight by slapping wrists.

If only the United States had allies willing—on their own, without putting American troops at risk—to do the hard work necessary to degrade Russia’s military capabilities, to diminish Putin’s threat to NATO and reduce his value to America’s other adversaries!

Oh wait! America does have such allies. Their capital is in Kyiv, their president is Volodymyr Zelensky and they are only asking for more of the tools necessary to get the job done.

A bipartisan bill to authorize new military assistance—old ammunition made in America which we’d replace within U.S. war stocks by new ammunition made in America—passed 70-29 in the Senate.

But a faction of Republicans in the House is blocking a vote in that body—a vote that would easily garner a bipartisan majority.

Meanwhile, the rulers of Iran, China and North Korea—an axis of anti-American tyrannies—are sending Putin an abundant supply of missiles, drones and other weaponry.

Memo to Donald Trump: You’ve said that upon returning to the Oval Office you’ll negotiate a peace deal. Will you have more leverage if the Ukrainian defenders are making progress, or if the Russian invaders are advancing?

Not so long ago, anyone who called himself a conservative regarded Putin as a villain: a former KGB colonel who said the “demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century.

Conservatives winced when Vice President Joe Biden, in 2009, declared that “it was time to press the reset button and to revisit the many areas we can and should be working together with Russia.”

In 2013, conservatives criticized President Obama for not enforcing his “red line” after Bashar al-Assad persisted in slaughtering opponents and civilians with chemical weapons. Instead, Obama trusted Putin to rein in the Syrian dictator—which, of course, he did not.

Was it just coincidence that, the following year, Putin invaded Ukraine for the first time?

Conservatives were dismayed by Obama’s weak response; his refusal to give Ukrainians weapons that might have deterred Putin going forward.

Over the past two years, President Biden’s support for Ukraine has not been insignificant. But neither has it been sufficient to allow the Ukrainians to drive the aggressors from their lands.

American and European sanctions have had only a limited impact on Russia’s economy. Russian hydrocarbons remain valuable commodities. China, India and Brazil are eager customers.

Also: A whopping 6% of Russia’s GDP is now going to the military. That has stimulated Russia’s economy, which has been growing faster than expected.

On Friday, Biden vowed “to continue to ensure that Putin pays a price for his aggression abroad and his repression at home.”

If he’s serious, three measures should be at the top of his list.

One: He should immediately send a dozen ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile Systems) with unitary warheads (better against hard targets than the cluster munitions variant) and with longer ranges than anything now in Ukraine’s arsenal. He can do that without congressional approval.

Though these missiles wouldn’t be silver bullets, they’d make a difference.

Among the targets they could reach: the Kerch Strait Bridge that connects Russia to Crimea. Built following Putin’s 2014 annexation of the peninsula, it has been attacked several times, but not damaged beyond repair. It was fully reopened in October.

Two: Biden should seize the $300 billion in frozen Russian bank reserves and utilize those funds to help Ukrainians defend themselves and begin rebuilding. It’s an extraordinary measure but one justified by Russia’s unprovoked and illegal invasion and the multiple war crimes that have followed.

A slight variation: Biden could use the funds as collateral for a lend-lease program for Ukraine.

Three: Biden should reverse his decision to curtail exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Without an abundant and reliable supply of American LNG—sales of which earn profits for Americans—the Europeans will be tempted to increase their purchases of oil and gas from Russia (they’ve never gone cold turkey) or buy more from Qatar, which has spent lavishly over the years on Hamas and other terrorist organizations.

As for getting additional military aid to Ukraine quickly, one other promising path is now in the mix. A bipartisan group of House members have introduced the Defending Borders, Defending Democracies Act, which combines providing weapons to allies with a version of Trump’s “remain in Mexico” policy for aliens seeking admission.

That will cause some Democrats to vote against it, but it will pass—if it has the support of Speaker Mike Johnson and some of the Republicans most determined to curtail Biden’s open-borders policy.

They should provide that support, because having allies willing and able to fight common enemies makes America stronger.

And because the axis of anti-American tyrannies would see Putin’s victory over Ukraine as a significant defeat for America.

And they’d be right.

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OCAD University student is seeking $1M in damages—alleging a lack of protection from threats and abuse

Samantha Kline, 22, presented photos of antisemitic graffiti she says targeted her.

The post OCAD University student is seeking $1M in damages—alleging a lack of protection from threats and abuse appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Palestinian Islamic Jihad Releases New Propaganda Video of Israeli Hostage

Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov as seen in a propaganda video released by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Photo: Screenshot

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group on Tuesday released a short propaganda video featuring Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov, 28, who was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists during Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel.

The 30-second undated video shows Trufanov, an Amazon employee, identifying himself and saying that he will soon discuss what has happened to him and other hostages in Gaza.

Similar videos have been released by terrorists groups in Gaza. Israel has lambasted them as psychological warfare.

Trufanov’s mother said in a video released by the family that she was happy to see her son after all this time, but “it was heartbreaking” that he had been a hostage for so long.

Trufanov was an engineer at the Israeli microelectronics company Annapurna Labs, which Amazon owns.

Hamas-led Palestinian terrorists abducted over 250 people during their Oct. 7 onslaught. Trufanov was kidnapped alongside his mother, grandmother, and girlfriend.

All three were released as part of a temporary ceasefire agreement negotiated in November. His father, Vitaly Trufanov, was one of the 1,200 people killed during the Hamas massacre.

“The proof of life from Alexsander (Sasha) Trufanov is additional evidence that the Israeli government must give a significant mandate to the negotiating team,” the Hostages Families Forum, which represents the families of the hostages, said in a statement.

More than 120 hostages remain in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas. Islamic Jihad is a separate but allied terrorist organization in the Palestinian enclave. Both are backed by Iran, which provides them with money, weapons, and training.

Negotiations brokered by Qatar, Egypt, and the US to reach a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas in Gaza have been stalled for weeks.

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Gal Gadot’s Action Movie Nabs Second Place on Netflix List of Most Watched Films in Second Half of 2023

Gal Gadot as Rachel Stone in a scene from the trailer for “Heart of Stone.” Photo: YouTube screenshot

Netflix released its engagement report that details the films with the most views from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2023, and Israeli actress Gal Gadot’s action thriller Heart of Stone secured the number two spot with 109.6 million views.

The film — starring Gadot alongside Jamie Dornan and Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt in leading roles — was the runner-up to Leave the World Behind, the drama starring Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, and Ethan Hawke that garnered 121 million views on Netflix.

Heart of Stone, directed by Tom Harper, was released on the streaming giant on Aug. 11 of last year. The action film is about international intelligence operative Rachel Stone, played by Gadot, who goes on a mission to protect an artificial intelligence system, known as The Heart, from falling in the wrong hands. The film was produced by Pilot Wave, a company founded by Gadot and her husband Jaron Varsano.

Gadot also stars in Netflix’s most popular film of all time, Red Notice, alongside Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds.

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