By Larry Persily
The State of Alaska, Congress and the president, individual companies and people do not all have the same capabilities and authority to show their disgust and dismay at Russia’s unprovoked, murderous attack on Ukraine, a sovereign nation at war with no one until Russian President Vladimir Putin decided he had to prove that he is the toughest, meanest kid on the planet.
But everyone needs to do something.
The world has suffered far too many deaths, ruined countries, poverty and famine due to wars over the centuries to sit by and watch more of the same. By 2022, we should be better than that. But, sadly, with the likes of Putin and other dangerous, corrupt egos in power, the killings continue, the shelling and missile strikes continue, the disregard for human rights and free elections continue.
A bigger war is not the answer. The U.S. and European nations are correct in not sending in troops and airplanes. That would only result in more deaths, emboldening Putin to escalate his killings, forcing more countries to choose sides and further dividing the world.
There is no easy way to force Putin to reconsider his deadly personal war on Ukraine. The hope is that a series of aid packages to the endangered nation and sanctions against Russia can, in time, make a difference in two ways: Helping Ukrainians survive and, cumulatively, convincing Putin that he can’t win and to accept a negotiated deal. Or maybe the sanctions will convince Russians that Putin needs to retire. Either way, pressure and aid are the best weapons to help Ukraine.
It is everyone’s responsibility to help bring that pressure to end the destruction, no matter how far from the border we live. The world is threatened when one nation decides war is an acceptable trade to gain power. And every person is threatened when innocent people are killed and no one tries to stop it.
Stopping it means stopping all purchases of Russian products, particularly oil and natural gas that provides the bulk of income to Putin’s government. It means blocking financial transactions that allow Russia, its companies and its government, to trade goods and investments around the world. It means prohibiting Russian airlines from flying overhead and kicking Russia out of international sports competitions and anything else that the country cares about.
As for whether the Alaska Permanent Fund should sell off its investments in Russian companies, that may be a financial moot point – there are few buyers these days for those stocks and bonds. The same applies to other savings accounts and pension funds worldwide. No one can sell if there are no buyers. And even when there are buyers, the investments are worth a fraction of what they were two weeks ago.
But whether government entities can find buyers for the investments is not the point. Even if it takes days or weeks or months to unload the stocks and bonds at a loss, it’s a moral issue, not financial. Starting a war is immoral, and holding investments in a country that starts a war is wrong.
It’s our responsibility to be part of a cumulative world message to Putin. No one sanction or decision will affect the outcome. The hope is that an overwhelming reaction might make a difference, maybe. There are no abstentions.
Taking an investment loss is a price that everyone in the free world should pay as its contribution toward restoring peace and freedom. It’s a lot easier for us than giving up your life, as people are doing in Ukraine.