When Will the West Draw the Line Against Russia’s Intimidation Policy?

By Lesia Dubenko

Despite Russia’s failure to execute a blitzkrieg in Ukraine, Moscow’s policy of intimidating the West remains unchanged.

On March 29, Russia’s Minister of Defense Sergey Shoigu warned that Russia will “respond appropriately” if “certain NATO countries press ahead with their plans to supply Ukraine with jet fighters or advanced anti-aircraft defense systems.”

On the same day, President of Russia Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov reiterated that Moscow is adamant that the EU pays for its gas in rubles, alluding to the possibility of cutting off supplies if the EU fails to meet its requirements.

Such an attitude does not come as a surprise given Moscow’s deliberately adopted tactic of intimidating the West whenever an opportunity arises.

In recent months, it has issued threats to Sweden, Finland, and Bosnia and Herzegovina; floated a potential attack on the military convoys delivered to Ukraine; initiated a UN meeting over the so-called biological laboratories in Ukraine (that went terribly wrong); and aired videos of prominent propagandists promising to invade Poland and conquer the Baltic states.

If it were not for the slow military advances in Ukraine and below par
state of the Russian army compared to its pre-war reputation, all these threats would appear to have substance to them.

But with the reality showing that Russia’s military power largely boils down to indiscriminate shelling of a country that lacks sufficient air defenses, it is unclear why the West continues to be intimated by Russia’s statements and threats, letting Moscow effectively dictate its foreign policy decisions.

It is all the more puzzling as Russia does not need a real reason to attack other countries.

Moscow invaded Ukraine not so much because of its NATO aspirations, as the Alliance showed no appetite to grant Kyiv membership in the coming years, but because it was under the impression that Kyiv would fall within several days, making it easy prey for a country with grand military ambitions.

To grasp the scale of Russia’s intimidation tactics, it is worth keeping in mind that it went as far as gambling its key source of income – gas exports – demanding that the West pay in the currency it wants, regardless of the signed agreements. Why?

Well, why not?

The Kremlin does not regard the contemplative NATO and U.S. stance as a sign of strength, however well-prepared and ready to sanction they are. Indeed, Russia’s Envoy to Sweden captured the gist of the Kremlin’s worldview several months ago.

On the contrary, it is perceived as an invitation to test the waters of what else it can do or say only to receive public condemnations from the UN and the OSCE, where it still enjoys the right to veto.

Because of this feeling of impunity, Russia does not show any true desire to stop the war in Ukraine, resorting to all sorts of maneuvers to win time and regroup its struggling and ill-equipped forces.

So, where does the West, and the U.S. particularly, draw the line in the face of Russian aggression? How much longer will Russia be allowed to carry out its intimidation policy powered mostly by blackmail and theatrical tricks and, to a much lesser degree, the country’s real capacity to battle with NATO?

Last week, Volodymyr Zelensky addressed NATO and G7 leaders, asking them to provide Ukraine with much-needed lethal weapons, including jet fighters. Just two days later, the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba hinted at the possibility of Ukraine receiving anti-air missiles systems from the U.S.

It is paramount that the latest statements made by Shoigu do not dissuade the West from helping Ukraine to limit Russia’s indiscriminate shelling and secure that critical military aid.

Like with Russia’s gas-for-rubles demand, it must not give in to Moscow’s intimidation policy as none of the 143 Ukrainian children or inhabitants of the continuously bombed Mariupol deserve to die from Russia’s brutal ideas of superiority and fabricated liberation claims.

Russia will not step down just because it is negotiating peace with Ukraine; nor because it described those talks as “meaningful”. Similarly one cannot trust Russia’s word to “radically” reduce the presence of its army near Kyiv because Moscow continues to blatantly violate virtually every offer it makes and every deal it signs.

This means only one thing: it will keep on intimidating the West until it receives, in Shoigu’s parlance, an appropriate response.



  1. The West need to realise that negotiations or diplomacy will never work with the nazis, only a big stick. Until the West remove useless leaders like Macron and Biden, nothing will change for the good. It’s time to call Putler’s bluff, arm Ukraine to the teeth with air defenses and a NFZ, what can Russia do about it? Ukraine have shown that Russia are at best a 3rd rate army, nowhere near the 2nd best army in the world.

  2. The West hates Eastern Orthodox people. This includes Ukraine. Nothing changed. I remember when Bulgaria defeated the turks during the Balkan Wars, Turkey offered Bulgaria 60% of its Empire. The filthy krauts and frogs were afraid of such a powerful bulgarian state and forced it to sign the Treaty of Berlin which would shrink its territory to its size as of today. Same happened to Ukraine with the Minsk Treaty, recognizing the scum in Donbas. Europe is happy when RuSSia is downe and Ukraine a hung up military dwarf, forced into neutrality and economically weak. The krauts and frogs fear competition. Beware of them Ukraine!

Enter comments here: